LUDLOW FC are the area’s sole representatives in the Shropshire Challenge Cup semi-finals after last-eight defeats for Church Stretton and Ludlow Town Colts.

A walkover victory over St Martin’s – who had to withdraw due to a sickness bug hitting their squad – handed Ludlow a spot in the last four.

Ludlow boss Chris Waldron said: “We would have preferred to play the game but it’s nice to get through.

“We got to the semi-final last year so it would be good to go one better and get to the final but there are some good teams left in the competition.”

Colts looked like joining Ludlow in the semis when they went 2-0 up at Oakengates Rangers but they conceded three times in the last 15 minutes – including a stoppage-time winner – to crash out.

Excellent build-up play led to Dan Griffiths firing Colts in front with a fine strike on 20 minutes and he set up Jamil Keeze to tuck home Colts’ second around the hour mark.

However, Shropshire Premier side Oakengates – who play one level above Herefordshire One leaders Colts – pulled one back on 78 minutes.

They equalised seven minutes later and, with extra-time looming, the hosts netted a 96th-minute winner to break Colts’ hearts.

It was Colts’ first loss of the season and boss Scott Mackenzie admitted: “We changed formation to shut up shop after they pulled one back but that just invited more pressure on our goal so I’ll take the blame for that.

“We were expecting a tough game but after we dominated for so long and should have been four, five or six ahead – their goalkeeper played well – it was really disappointing to go out.”

Stretton boss Scott Peever, meanwhile, had no complaints after his West Midlands Premier side were surprised 3-0 at home by Shropshire Premier outfit Shrewsbury Juniors.

Trailing 1-0, the game was up when Aaron Gough was sent off on the brink of half-time and Juniors netted the resulting penalty before adding a late third.

Peever said: “Shrewsbury were excellent and seemed to want it more than us but I’m not going to criticise the lads too much because they have been excellent this season.”