STRIKER Greg Draper will not be returning for a second season with Basingstoke Town after joining Welsh side TNS.

The 21-year-old New Zealand international found the back of the net 15 times in the Blue Square South last season to become a fans’ favourite at The Camrose.

However, Draper will now ply his trade in the Welsh Premier League after finding the twin draws of European competition and full-time football too much to turn down.

TNS begin their assault on the Europa League next Thursday, when they take on Northern Irish outfit Cliftonville in the first qualifying round.

“It’s exciting to have the chance to play in the Europa League and TNS are full-time,” Draper said.

“The facilities are top class as well, which made it quite an easy decision in the end.

“I really enjoyed my time at Basingstoke and there are a really good bunch of lads there.

“It looked like I was going to be staying and I was looking forward to it but I got a call at the last minute and going to TNS is a great opportunity.”

Draper has only signed a one-month deal so far but he expects to sign a long-term contract in the near future, quashing Town’s hopes of retaining the striker, who had verbally agreed to stay.

Assistant manager Gerry Murphy said: “We offered Greg a good contract, deserving of what he did last season.

“He had verbally agreed to sign for us so we are not happy really,but we appreciate that playing full-time and in Europe is a great opportunity for him.”

Draper added: “It’s a bit unfortunate the way it worked out but it’s just one of those things that happen in football.

“Until someone signs on the dotted line nothing is certain.”

Another former Town striker, Ben Wright, has moved from Crawley Town to Blue Square Premier newcomers Braintree Town, linking up with Alan Devonshire, who he played under at Hampton and Richmond Borough.