BAFFLED Badshot Lea boss Gavin Smith was left “shocked” by his side’s poor showing as they had their perfect Combined Counties League Premier Division record blown away by newcomers Sheerwater on Saturday.
The Baggies were undone by two goals from Shane Rideout and a third from Danny Taylor and had midfielder Ashley Lloyd sent off on the stroke of half-time at the Laithwaite Stadium, where Sheerwater groundshare with National League Woking.
The defeat came just days after Lea’s superb midweek FA Cup replay win over Ascot United at Westfield Lane and left the management team of Smith and Dave Ford scratching their heads.
“That’s probably only the second time since we took over that I’ve seen that level of workrate. It was absolutely shocking, we just didn’t turn up,” said Smith, whose side turn their attentions to the FA Cup tomorrow night.
“We’ve been doing well and Ascot was a great game the previous Tuesday where we put a lot into it,” said Smith, “but I was really expecting us to turn up at Woking on a decent pitch and really play football like we can.
“There was a lack of energy and desire, none of it was there. You get those games sometimes and you can never understand why it’s happened.
“I don’t think it’s an excuse that they worked so hard on the Tuesday (against Ascot). There was quite a bit of negativity around before the game for whatever reason that I could sense and things just didn’t seem right, and they took that into the game.”
Lea fell behind to Taylor’s goal in the 11th minute before Rideout struck twice in three minutes late in the second half to put the result beyond doubt.
In-form Nic Ciardini had pulled Lea level on 57 minutes despite the Baggies having been reduced to ten men after Lloyd had been shown a straight red card for allegedly treading on a Sheerwater player while getting back on his feet after both players had tangled on the floor.
Yet with a little more luck the Baggies may have been celebrating a third straight Premier Division win on Saturday night as Ciardini and Shaq Williams both struck the Sheerwater crossbar in the first half.
And Ciardini also came close to converting a tough chance as he attempted to dink the ball over the Sheerwater goalkeeper, while Jordan Carter saw a goal-bound cracker blocked.
“The second half we came out and played really well because we had to up our workrate because we were down to ten, so they had to find a little bit extra,” said Smith.
“We did it and I think we actually scored too early. We also had two good chances after that to score again and take the lead.
“We didn’t play well but we still looked dangerous. Even with ten men I felt we were the better side for 20 minutes. Sheerwater looked like their fitness level had dropped but then they got the second goal and that boosted them again.”
So after suffering their first league defeat of the season, the Baggies turn their attention to a date with Christchurch in Dorset in the FA Cup tomorrow night (kick-off 7.45pm) – but Smith isn’t worried about a hangover from Saturday’s defeat.
“I don’t think we’ll need to lift the players,” he said, “they should respond to that defeat by Sheerwater. It was that bad that there should be a response and if there isn’t we’ll be disappointed.
“If you play two games (on the trot) like that then you have to question the players you’ve got in, but I don’t think they will.”
Badshot Lea: Lunn, Blake, Flanaghan, Hutchings, Armsworth, Lloyd, Cadete (Carter 60), Ciardini (Ford 73), Williams, Matthews (Hawker 49), Medcraft. Subs (not used): Pound, Thripp.