We are underdogs for HFA County Challenge Cup final, says Westfields boss Edwards

Hereford Times: 1415_21001 Westfields FC v Dunkirk FCBrad Birch (5385407) 1415_21001 Westfields FC v Dunkirk FCBrad Birch (5385407)

CITY rivals Pegasus Juniors are the ‘clear favourites’ to win next week’s HFA County Challenge Cup final at Edgar Street, says Westfields manager Sean Edwards.

Chris Hyde’s Pegasus side might play one tier below Westfields but Edwards believes his Midland Alliance outfit are the underdogs for next Wednesday final, which kicks off at 7.30pm.

“In terms of the County Challenge Cup, it’s the final that the HFA wanted, “said Edwards.

“Westfields might be the cup holders and won it seven times in the last 10 years but Pegasus are the in-form football team in Herefordshire.

“The way that Pegasus have held their season together, it makes them the clear favourites to win it.”

Westfields were too strong for struggling Dunkirk, despite falling behind to an early goal in last Saturday’s Midland Alliance match at Allpay Park.

Brad Birch and Jamie Cuss both bagged doubles for Westfields after KD Brown had fired Dunkirk ahead with a cracking drive in the seventh minute.

Before contemplating next week’s County Cup final, Westfields have to play three home league matches.

Edwards’ side host AFC Wulfrunians tonight (Thursday) and Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday before entertaining Stourport Swifts on Easter Monday.

Edwards said: “It will be a good challenge for us to see if we can make it four County Challenge Cups wins in a row.

“I won’t be putting an pressure on myself. Of course we want to win it – but I think we are going to the final as underdogs. Pegasus have had a cracking season and are a very good side.”

Former Torquay United player Saul Halpin, a student at Hartpury College, was missing through injury and Jamie Cuss had an important role in Westfields’ victory over Dunkirk with two goals.

He came close to grabbing a hat-trick but fired wide of the target with five minutes left after racing clear of the visiting defence.

Dunkirk looked the more purposeful side in the opening 20 minutes but Westfields levelled through Birch, profiting from a dreadful blunder between visiting goalkeeper Jake Want and a defender.

Goalkeeper Matt Gwynne saved a header from Mike Fitzhugh and Westfields responded strongly, with Cuss bursting through and heading into an empty net after flicking the ball over Want.

Matt Reeve was denied by a good save from Want after the break but the home side took a firm grip on the match when Cuss headed in a right-wing corner from Craig Jones.

The hosts sealed the point with seven minutes remaining when the unmarked Birch headed in a pin-point cross from Joel Edwards, who made an impressive return after injury.

However, Dunkirk kept battling and Kevin Lusamba cracked a shot against the underside of the bar.

Cuss said: “We just want to do well as we can and built a base for next season with a good pre-season and look to win the league.

“It was demoralising to lose the league title in successive years by one point.

“But you have to pick yourself up and go again. It hasn’t worked out this season but with the quality that’s in the changing room

“Craig Jones is an excellent player and his passing is exceptional - he creates more than he scores.

Boss Edwards said he was pleased with Westfields’ fightback.

“Having gone behind, you fear the worst but I was very pleased with the lads.”

“It’s been a learning curve because in this league you can’t take your feet off the gas for one moment.”

Edwards was pleased with the displays from Matt Reeve, from Bartestree, and Worcester-based Birch.

“I have watched Matt Reeve for a few games at Bartestree and I am grateful to Dave Cadwallader for organising it once their season finished to come and see out the season with us,” said Edwards.

“I wanted to get Matt involved and to have a look at him with a view to making the step up and he’s done very well.

“Birch is a great lad – he scores goals, has a lot of energy and he’s a winner. He’s isn’t a striker but he’s been excellent for us in that department and scored 15 or 16 goals this season.”

To watch video footage and interviews from Saturday, go to: herefordtimes.com/video


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