Badshot Lea manager Gavin Smith was pleased with his side’s second-half fightback after they slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Leatherhead in the Isthmian League South Central Division.

Goals from Trevan Robinson, Tyler Cox and Ibrahim Olatude put the visitors 3-0 up in the first half, but second-half goals from Lamin Ceesay and Kareem Akinnibi set up a grandstand finale.

Smith was full of praise for Leatherhead – who have secured a place in the play-offs – but was delighted with how his side got back into the game.

“I think they're (Leatherhead) the best side in the league,” said Smith. “They're definitely the side with the best intensity and the best way of playing in my opinion. I like what they do and they were good in the first half, although I do feel we contributed to their goals massively. We can overanalyse stuff but it was poor decision making for the three goals. They've got the quality to be fair – the balls in the box were decent. You don't get that with every team we play. Everything they put in is dangerous.

“We were a bit disappointed at half-time because I didn't feel the fitness or the amount of games we've played played too much of a part in us being behind. If I'm honest it was more to do with our bad decisions, so we regrouped at half-time. People got told some honest truths – where they can improve and what they're doing wrong. They took it on board and the intensity we showed in the second half – we battered them in the second half and played some good football. We pressed, we were intense, and everything we did had better quality on it. We deserved the two goals and if we had got a third I don't think they could have complained.

“It was really positive because we've been looking for something to take some belief from because it's been a tough time. Even though we've lost, to win the second half like we did and put in that level of performance was really good. It's really pleasing and it gave the people who come and watch – who've been a bit disappointed lately – something to be pleased about. We could have crumbled but we didn't. We showed some spirit and had a go.

“It was our seventh game in 12 days. It was always going to be an uphill battle, so we were looking for a bit of character and to try to stay in the game as long as we can. To show that resilience to come back when we could have folded was really good. There were some really good performances.

“Leatherhead are on a different level for me in terms of the way they play and their fitness levels. They've got some good players who are really good at what they do and you feel it on the sideline. You feel if they're really clinical we could end up with a real battering. We've gone three behind and we've come back, got two and made a real game of it. That bodes well for us going forward.”

Ceesay pulled the first goal back for the Baggies from the penalty spot on 73 minutes, before Akinnibi slotted past Leatherhead keeper Amadou Tangara at the second attempt in the 79th minute to make it 3-2.

“Josh Keeya should have taken the penalty but Lamin had the confidence to step up and put it away, which was good, and then Kareem bundled one in for the second,” said Smith.

“I actually thought we had a couple of good chances in the first half, so we weren't completely out of it in the first half. It just didn't quite fall. George Hedley hit the bar with a header and Kareem had one that he put over. There were a couple of little half-chances, so we weren't out the game in the first half. Although we were losing 3-0 it was competitive. It was intense and you did feel that they could score at any time, but it was a proper game of football. That's what you want – to be tested. We'll take the positives out of winning the second half.”