The New Saints have accomplished a number of firsts this season as a collective, but last month’s 4-0 Nathaniel MG Cup Final victory over Gavin Chesterfield’s Barry Town United signalled a significant first for a number of Craig Harrison’s players as the likes of Jon Routledge, Steve Saunders and Fletcher won their first honours for the Oswestry club.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s Showdown of The Saints at Saint Mirren Park, The New Saints’ Number 10 is looking to use the experience of winning his first trophy at Cyncoed Campus last month to fuel him and his teammates in their pursuit of another final berth when contesting The Irn Bru Scottish Challenge Cup semi-final this weekend.
‘I’ve never really had that experience of winning trophies before, so it was really good to get my first one under my belt in The Nathaniel MG Cup Final in January; we got into the playoffs when I was with York City, but couldn’t quite get over the line, so this is a new thing for me to be winning trophies, but to do that it always good and it was a great feeling.
‘We’re really looking forward to going back and playing in Scotland again, it’s something I’m really looking forward to personally and I know the lads are too. I know one of the boys at St Mirren so it’ll be good to see him again, but it’s a great opportunity for us to reach another final and that’ll be our focus in the game.
‘We definitely have what it takes to get to the final, the teams we’ve played so far with the players we’ve got we should be beating them, and St Mirren are struggling a bit themselves this season so it’s a good opportunity to get to the final, but it won’t be easy!’
It’s not often that Harrison’s men taste disappointment, particularly so this season after their record-breaking exploits, but last weekend the reigning Dafabet Welsh Premier League Champions lost 1-0 at Richmond Park to Mark Aizlewood’s Carmarthen Town.
That defeat to The Old Gold ended a run of 31 games unbeaten in all competitions for The Dafabet Welsh Premier League leaders, but the 24-year-old Fletcher is eager to get a new run started on Sunday.
‘We’re looking to bounce back from the weekend, really, it was a disappointing result for us to go all that way and not take anything from the game, but it was going to happen at some point in the season, wasn’t it?
‘It was a difficult game against a very physical team on a tough pitch, so it was just one of those games. We had a good go in the second half, did everything we could, but it wasn’t to be on the day and we’ll be working hard to bounce back on the weekend.’
Another player to have come into The Dafabet Welsh Premier League from outside of Wales this past summer, Fletcher has enjoyed the experience of being involved with Wales’ Premier division and elaborated on what factors influenced his decision to join Harrison’s cause.
‘It’s been a good experience for me, it’s a new league, one I’ve not played in before, but I knew a few of the lads before I came down here and the entire squad has been class to be fair, so I’ve really enjoyed being here.
‘I knew Ryan Brobbel and Jon Routledge before I joined the club and they just told me I should come to TNS because they were enjoying themselves, so I did that and I ended up signing too and I’ve really liked being here.
‘The UEFA Champions League is a big draw, that’s what everyone wants to play in, isn’t it? It’s a different experience for me, I’ve not had that before, so I’m really looking forward to playing in that and it’s been one of the biggest reasons behind me signing for the club.
‘Being a world-record breaker didn’t come into my mind when I signed for the club, obviously we have our targets and so on but that was never one of them. It’s something very special to achieve at any level of football, of course, it’s a great achievement to get it done because we’ve turned up every week for so long and won so many games, which is very hard to do at any level.’
Despite being involved in such great success since joining the club, Fletcher is adamant that there is more to come from him as the season goes on and he overcomes the injury problems that have hampered him somewhat so far.
‘Apart from the injuries I’ve had a really good time, but that happens in football so I’ve just got to get on with it and wait for that to pass. There’s a good group of players at TNS and I’ve enjoyed being a part of that, and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do once I get past these niggles. I think I’ve done alright since I’ve been here, I just need to knock these injuries on the head and then I’ll be fine.’
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