Bartestree 1 Ledbury Town 3.

LEDBURY Town joint-manager Chris Powell has hit back at the club’s deserters after storming into the HFA County Challenge Cup final.

Stalwart Powell says people walked away from Town after they resigned from the West Midlands League Premier Division two years ago for financial reasons.

“People stepped away from the club when we went back into the Herefordshire League, thinking we could not get back to where we were originally,” said Powell.

“We are not there yet but we’re back in the West Midlands League, pushing for promotion from Division Two, and there are enough good players in Ledbury to get to the Premier Division.

“We have got to a County Cup final and we now want to prove we’re worthy of being there.”

Ledbury came from behind - and then scored two second-half goals - to sink hosts Bartestree in last Saturday’s hard-fought County Cup semi-final.

They will face the winners of the next Tuesday’s other last-four tie between Pegasus Juniors and holders Westfields.

This year’s final will take place at Edgar Street at the end of the season.

Powell said: “We are quite prepared to go up against whoever wins the other semi-final.

“All we can do is play to our best. If we can show the same sort of heart in the final, we can give anyone a run for their money.”

Ledbury last won the County Cup in 2010 – when goals from David Accam, Lee Allen and Antoine Thompson gave them a deserved 3-0 success over Westfields. Bartestree were aiming for their maiden County Cup final appearance last weekend and took a 26th-minute lead in bitterly cold and blustery conditions.

Ryan Jones coolly drilled his shot into the net after Ledbury’s defence and goalkeeper Lewis Skyers had struggled to deal with a right-wing cross.

But the home side’s advantage lasted fewer than 60 seconds.

Town’s Neil Gardiner broke down the right and his cross caught the wind and deceived Bartestree goalkeeper Rauri Wargent at the near post.

Bartestree started the second period strongly and the lively Miles Langford shot over the bar after neat build-up play.

Ledbury went ahead in the 62nd minute when Dan Herbert, who had an effort ruled out for off-side in the first-half, slid the ball home after his initial shot had been blocked.

And Ledbury sealed their triumph in the 79th minute, much to the delight of their fans who had travelled on the team coach. Jamie Welch delivered a cross from the right and Tom Boyle applied an emphatic finish, drilling a rising shot into the top corner from close-range.

Bartestree boss Dave Cadwallader felt mistakes had cost his side a place in the showpiece final.

“When you play at this level you can’t make mistakes and expect to get a good result,” he said.

“The players dug in and battled but Ledbury took their chances well.

“It’s a shame we’re not at Edgar Street in April but getting promotion is our main aim.

“We want to get out of our division and aim towards the Premier Division.”

Powell, who is backed up by Phil Preedy, said he felt sympathy for Bartestree.

“All of our players performed well – and Bartestree caught us on the wrong day,” said Powell. “We beat them in a cup-final and a cup semi-final last season and also we beat them on goal-difference to lift the Herefordshire League Premier Division title.

“I am feeling a bit sorry for them. At the moment, we’re having close matches and just coming out on top.”

MATCH FACTS Bartestree: Rauri Wargent, Drewski (Omelasz), Matt Wargent, Avery, Davies, Tabb (Andrews), Upcott, Jones, Parry (Cooper), Miles Langford, Hill. Subs not used: Freddi.

Ledbury Town: Skyers, Merrick, Roberts, Locke, Pete Boyle, Febrey, Tom Boyle, Gardiner, Welch, Herbert, Loveridge. Subs not used: Duncan Preedy, Williams, Watkins, Phil Preedy, Powell.

Booked: Bartestree: Tabb, foul, 13 min.

Referee: Kevin Morris (Herefordshire FA).

Star man: Scott Roberts (Ledbury Town).