FORMER Barnsley favourite Ashley Fletcher hopes that Middlesbrough’s keynote victory over his old side proves a turning point in their season – while professing to a bittersweet feeling after scoring the winner on Wednesday night.
Fletcher, who enjoyed a productive loan spell in South Yorkshire in 2015-16 – playing an important role in a memorable campaign when the Reds secured a Wembley double by winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and League One play-off final – added to Barnsley’s torment with the only goal of the game in a big relegation ‘six-pointer’ at a rain-lashed Riverside Stadium.
The forward’s celebrations were muted after his 54th-minute strike as Boro secured a first victory in 11 matches to move out of the relegation zone and provide a boost ahead of tomorrow’s demanding trip to Leeds United.
On mixed emotions on Wednesday, Fletcher, who has ended a Championship goal drought stretching back to the opening day of the season with strikes in back-to-back home games, said: “It is. Obviously, it is always tricky playing against your former club.
“But we needed the three points and, unfortunately, it had to come against Barnsley.
“But, for me, it was all about three points and I was not bothered about who scored.
“Hopefully, it can be a turning point in our season and we can go into the Leeds game full of confidence after showing both sides of our game in the last two games.
“We will go into it as underdogs, but we will just focus on ourselves and we showed in the Hull game that we can pass any side off the pitch and create chances for me, Britt (Assombalonga), Tav (Marcus Tavernier) and Paddy McNair.”
Fletcher believes that his friendship with Assombalonga is helping to contribute to the chemistry with his fellow forward.
The pair, entrusted with scoring the goals to pull Boro away from relegation danger, have impressed in the club’s last three matches, both scoring two goals apiece.
Fletcher added: “I love it. Me and Britt are off good mates off the pitch as well and I am learning from him also.
“He is a proven striker in this league and I am sure he will go on to play in the Premier League and we compliment each other really well.
“You can see that chemistry on the pitch and the goal on Sunday was straight off the training ground.
“Me playing with somebody up front helps me as opposed to being a lone striker.
“I heard people used to say that about Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole back in their Manchester United days that they used to spend a lot of time off the pitch helping each other – and you could see how they were on the pitch.”