BADSHOT Lea’s topsy-turvy season took a turn for the worse again on Saturday at windswept Addlestone Moor.
Two first-half goals in five minutes – the first an unstoppable wind-assisted effort from Brad Thomas from fully 25 yards and the second from Jack Watts – sealed lacklustre Lea’s fate.
And boss Gavin Smith was left suitably unimpressed as his charges spurned the chance to win for the fifth successive game and all but seal their Combined Counties League Premier Division status for next season.
“It was terrible,” he said. “The conditions weren’t great but I’m not going to make excuses about the defeat.
“And it could have been worse because in the first half we were atrocious. The wind was very strong and it was difficult to play in but they wanted it more.”
Since taking over at Krooner Park just after Christmas, Smith and assistant Dave Ford have steered Lea up to the relative safety of 11th place – nine points above the relegation zone after seven wins from 11 games – but Smith is concerned about the seemingly Jekyll and Hyde nature of his team.
“Before Saturday we had four successive wins and you don’t do that if you are a bad side, and last week we looked like we have a very good side here who are not far away from where we want them to be.
“But this week I couldn’t pick anyone out who played well, and I never ever criticise anyone for not playing well because that happens sometimes, but when there’s a lack of effort then that’s a different matter.
“The wind might have had some bearing on the game but it was the same for both sides and we were just disappointed by some people’s preparations for the game and their attitude.”
With Lea realistically within touching distance of safety with just nine games left, and with games in hand on pretty much all of their immediate rivals, the players could maybe be forgiven for thinking it is already job done.
But that won’t cut any ice with Smith, who said: “If they are thinking that way and that is their mentality then they are not going to be right for us for next year because I want to be better than that. I was hoping they would show what they are capable of and push on so that we can climb the table.
“I said to the boys that the last time we lost we went on a bad run, so next week (against leaders Sutton Common Rovers) is massive because we’ve got to get something out of the game. We’re not safe and before you know it if you lose three on the bounce another team will win three on the bounce and we could be back where we were.”
Neither the loss to Abbey Rangers nor this Saturday’s game at Sutton will define Lea’s season but Smith, with an eye on next season, is keen to see how his side match up against the better sides in the division. But he’s still not taking anything for granted.
“Looking at it logically, we probably only need a couple of wins but I don’t want those wins to have to come in the last two games under pressure because someone has caught us.”
On Saturday, the two goals around the half-hour mark in the first half effectively settled the contest, while Liam Roberts’ dismissal on 67 minutes for two yellow cards – the second of which was described by Smith as “ridiculous” as the full back was adjudged by the referee to have deliberately handled the ball as he toppled over an Abbey player’s back after a tussle for the ball – completed Lea’s miserable day and undid a lot of the good work from Lea’s impressive 2-0 win over AFC Hayes the previous week.
“It’s easy to get better from a bad performance. What I’m looking for is for us to have a good performance and then maintain that level. We need seven out of tens most weeks and we need people to be consistent,” said Smith.
On Saturday, Lea travel to south London to face Premier Division leaders Sutton Common Rovers at Green Lane (kick-off 3pm).
Badshot Lea: Clement, Pound, Roberts, Scott, Bonsu, Lloyd, Cadete (Lewington 76), Herbert, May (Cousins 73), Ford, Thripp (Blake 46). Subs (not used): Flanaghan.