A FRIENDLY on Alton’s all-weather pitch at Anstey Park has kick-started Badshot Lea’s season.

The Baggies were desperate for some match action after a long lay-off and the Wessex League club were happy to help out.

Badshot Lea co-manager Gavin Smith said: “We managed to take a look at a couple of new faces and played our youth-team keeper, which was good experience for him, and we played some good football and won 5-1.

“We needed to get back to winning ways and it was ideal for us.”

They followed that match with a fine 4-1 win at Horley – and the Baggies then produced an excellent display to beat Isthmian League Ashford Town 1-0 in midweek in the Surrey Senior Cup.

The only goal came in added time from former Ashford player Kane Fitzgerald, curling home a magnificent shot.

Ashford recently lost their manager and Dean Greenwood has taken the reins. “I hate losing matches and although it wasn’t our best performance, we had a patched-up squad because of the cup rules and injuries,” he said afterwards.

Smith, though, was delighted with the victory.

“It’s a good feeling to score so late – I was told the last time we scored in the last five minutes of a match was against Abbey Rangers, which was ages ago,” he said.

“We don’t do many of those, so it was nice.

“And Kane’s goal was absolute class – it was a heck of a goal.

“The result was good and the performance was excellent – we carried out our game plan perfectly and we looked the more organised team.

“Yes, they lost their manager recently and Dean has stepped up, so could go through a period of change, but we looked more organised and kept the ball well.

“We didn’t create a lot of chances in the first half, but did better after the break and their keeper did well with a couple of shots from outside the box.

“It’s a real positive for us – competing with and beating a Step 4 team is a step in the right direction. That’s got to be our aim – if we want to be playing at that level we have got to show we can beat those kind of teams.”

Their reward for victory is a home clash with another Isthmian League side – South Central Division Sutton Common Rovers.

“It’s another challenge for us – it’s good to be playing sides like that,” said Smith.

“We beat Horley 6-1 on the first day of the season and I thought then they shouldn’t trouble us, so it was good to go there and do it again.

“We were ruthless in front of goal and that was great to see – Mal’s finishing was on a different level. We have been playing well this season but just missing finding the net when we should.

“Our defence looked really tight and Craig Bradshaw was excellent in goal, made a good stop at 1-0 and a great double stop when we were 2-0 up.

“We are getting our players back now from injury and the feeling in the changing room is good.”

The Baggies are at home in the league today (Saturday) against AFC Croydon Athletic, and entertain Frimley Green on Tuesday night in the Aldershot Senior Cup.