Climbing to the lofty heights of third in the standings following their victory over the Dragons this weekend, Newtown trail only Connah’s Quay Nomads and The New Saints in the table at present and will be looking to consolidate their position in the coming weeks. Read on to find out more from Newtown’s Alex Fletcher.
“We are a footballing side, we do like to get the ball down and play and keep possession when we can, but we can do the other side of the game as well and I think we did well on Saturday against Barry to win the game as both teams cancelled each other out a bit.
“Joe Kenton scored two crucial goals at very important times, with the Barry keeper making a mistake as well for the first one just before halftime, but we defended well, we won the game out of possession I think, it was a very tight affair.
“We want to play out of the back, play through the thirds and so on, but we’ve had to work hard on the other side of the game which is winning second balls, staying compact, we can do whatever the game needs and I think that is the biggest area where we’ve improved this year, what we do off the ball.”
Having not finished inside the top six since the 2015/16 season, Fletcher explained how that is a real goal for the Robins this season, and whatever happens this weekend they are guaranteed to be inside the top half come the end of MD10.
Newtown have secured some big victories already this term, not least in their recent run of wins against Cardiff Met at home, Llanelli away and Barry Town Unitred at home, and with another win on the weekend they could equal the longest JDWPL winning streak of the season – currently set at four by TNS and Connah’s Quay.
“I think everyone in the league wants to be in that top six, and that is no different at Newtown, but this year there has been a real emphasis on wanting to finish in the top half when the split comes. We want to play in those types of games that we did on Saturday, we want to play in those types of environments.
“We want to be coming up against the best sides every week, we want to be in that top half come January and we know it will be a challenge to get there, but we’ve had a good start, a good run of performances, and we want that to continue.
“We got an important win against Cardiff Met at home, the away win against Llanelli was huge for us too, and then we followed that up with a win against Barry – to get three wins on the bounce is very good, we have big games to come though and we want this form to continue.”
This weekend the Robins travel to Maes Tegid with the opportunity of securing a Phase One double over the Lakesiders after Newtown bested Bala 2-0 in their September clash at Latham Park.
The young midfielder, Fletcher, detailed the challenge he thinks Bala will pose to Newtown, how they hope to counteract it and where he feels like his game has improved the most this year.
“Every game in the JD Welsh Premier League is a tough game, you’ve got to treat every game as if its as difficult a game as the last and you’ve got to give everyone the same respect – every away game is going to be tough, but especially against Bala as they have some very good players and a perfect record at home.
“We’ll be working as hard as ever in training this week on a plan that will work against them on Friday night, but we know it is going to be a very tough game as they’ve done well at home this season.
“Hopefully we’ll go there and stop that run this Friday though. On a personal level, I think performance-wise I’ve done well, but it has helped me definitely that the whole side is playing so well. I think I’ve adapted my game quite well to what the team has needed this year, so I’m pleased with how I’m doing, but I always want to improve and I hope I can add some more goals to help the team reach the top six this season.”
With just six points covering the teams from third to ninth in the standings, the JDWPL table is still as close as ever as we approach MD10, with Fletcher confessing that Newtown’s start has gone as well as they could have realistically hoped it would go.
Whilst the table makes for a very tight affair at the minute, however, it is inevitable that teams will begin to carve out small gaps between each other in the coming weeks, which is why the young Newtown midfielder feels that it is especially important they keep their good run going over the next few weeks.
“We wanted to get a good start, and we couldn’t ask for much more than what we’ve done to be in third place after nine games, but there is still a long way to go so we have to make sure we carry this on for as long as we can.
“You don’t know what is going to happen in this league from week to week, I’ve really enjoyed playing in the JD Welsh Premier League – it is very competitive, it is so tight, there is nothing between the teams from top to bottom.
“You might see over the next few weeks gaps starting to show between teams in the table, but that’s why it is even more important for us than ever to make sure we keep going with this good run we’re on, as we have two tough away games now before we come back home.”
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