Badshot Lea maintained their perfect start to the Combined Counties Premier League season with a 2-1 victory over Raynes Park Vale.
And the victory was especially sweet for the Baggies as it was the first time Raynes Park had dropped points this season.
And the bad news for league rivals is that Baggies co-manager Gavin Smith believes his team can get even better.
He would like that to be underlined by a good run in the FA Vase, starting with Saturday’s second round qualifying tie at home to Wessex League Premier side Shaftesbury Town.
“It was a good result at Raynes Park,” said Smith.
“I keep saying it’s still early in the season but I’d expect them to be near the top of the table by the end of the season, top three or so, so it was a good win.
“On the day, it’s probably the strongest we have been squad wise. We added James Whiting and Tane Caubo to the squad.
“We had a good start, going ahead inside five minutes with a good cross from Mac Ford and header from Adam New, and we looked good.
“Before the game I told the players to sit back for the first 20 minutes, because we hadn’t seen them since we played them last year, to see what they were all about.
“We did that and they were spraying balls everywhere and looked very comfortable. We were under the cosh.
“It’s hard to get instructions out there during a game but to us watching from the sideline, it was like the Hamworthy game – we sat back and told the opposition they had to break us down, but to us it seemed they would.
“We needed to change something but they equalised and looked a really decent side.
“At half-time we set out how we wanted to play and in the second half we were miles better. We were more in control.
“It wasn’t a great game to be honest – it was a bit cagey – but to get a result there is really good.
“We had a good start last year too but this time I don’t believe we haven’t played as well as we can – I’m hoping we can only get better.
“We know there’s always something we can improve on – maybe we are a bit demanding! – and although we know the results are the important thing, we think sometimes things don’t look quite right.
“We are a bit stronger defensively this year but we are missing something going forward. We have definitely got the players – we have had a lot of changes and brought new people in.
“It may be a case we have to play differently but we know we are overly-critical – as long as they are working hard, we are happy.
“There’s that little bit of extra competition for places now which is great – Harrison Livingstone had one of his better games up front, and perhaps Tane coming in has helped that.”
This Saturday the Baggies entertain Wessex Leaguers Shaftesbury Town and Smith says: “Every club at our level would love a Vase run.
“You always think we’re probably not going to get to Wembley but someone has to do it – and if we are the top of our league, are we that far apart from other clubs?
“I don’t know much about Shaftesbury but we are at home and whoever we play there we expect to win.
“Of course, a good run is partly down to the luck of the draw. Binfield made the final and seemed to win every tie on penalties – but we would settle for that and a trip to Wembley!
“It’s everyone’s dream – you never think it’s going to happen to you, but why not? We’ll be up for it on Saturday, we know that.”
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