Badshot Lea fell further behind leaders Raynes Park Vale after a midweek draw at Knaphill – but co-manager Gavin Smith insisted: We’d have taken that before the game.
Knaphill are never easy opponents – and Smith admitted the Baggies were not at their best at Redding Way.
The 1-1 draw wasn’t made any more appetising for the 125 hardy souls in the crowd by a referee happy to flourish cards. The Baggies had received only 12 bookings all season – on Tuesday night they picked up seven yellow cards in 90 minutes.
The Baggies’ bench made substitutions with an aim of keeping 11 players on the pitch – while Knaphill weren’t so lucky, with Owen Tanner seeing red.
Tane Caubo put Badshot Lea ahead with a quarter of an hour left, but in injury time Ali Mansaray levelled.
With Raynes Park Vale winning 2-1 at Croydon – courtesy of a late strike after the hosts had twice hit the woodwork – the Baggies are now five points behind the leaders.
Smith said: “To be honest, we are happy with the point, especially after our performance in the first half when we didn’t turn up, and Knaphill were a lot better than us.
“They did everything they had to do – they are very clever at winning free kicks and are very good with their set pieces.
“It was disappointing to concede so late when we were against ten men, but they deserved it.
“We have fallen a bit behind Raynes Park but there are still a lot of games to go – we have some tough games coming up, with Sheerwater this weekend and then Raynes Park and Abbey.
“But Knaphill away, I reckon, is one of our toughest fixtures – they don’t lose many at home and they always set up well against the top teams and do well.
“Raynes Park went to Croydon and got the job done, which isn’t easy – we have to go to that ground twice, to play Croydon and Balham. It’s not easy.
“But Raynes Park still have to play Jersey twice and they take on Abbey on Saturday, so all the teams are going to drop points in the run-in.
“We just have to concentrate on what we are doing.
“We have ten games left, 30 points to play for. Every week something changes.
“Last season after 28 games we had 60 points. We’re seven points better off this year, and it’s always good when we are showing improvement.
“We have a points tally we’d like to get to – if we keep on improving, that’s great, and we have to hope that’s good enough at the end of the season.”
The Baggies found goals easier to come by last Saturday when they beat Redhill 5-1 thanks to goals from George Hedley, Harrison Livingstone (2), Tane Caubo and Dean Rule.
“We weren’t happy at half-time because I felt they were the better side – I thought they should have been a couple up to be honest. Defensively we were poor,” said Smith.
“We tweaked something at half-time but I think they ran out of legs.
“Fitness levels play a part. We try to play football and they pressed us quite hard and maybe they did run out of legs.
“We are sometimes overly critical of our players and we’re always looking to play well. We had a little bit more about us in the second half although the game wasn’t great – it was a bit like basketball, up and down with no real control.
“We rested some people because they had knocks and James Whiting came in and did well, and Harrison scored a screamer.
“It’s getting the three points that is important – it doesn’t matter how you get them.”
The Baggies are at home on Saturday when they tackle Sheerwater and three days later take on Raynes Park Vale at their Wrecclesham ground.
The tough games come thick and fast as they follow that with a trip to Abbey Rangers.