Harrogate Veterans sparkle in Thailand to win Masters Games

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Harrogate Veterans’ trip to Thailand ended in success, as England became the inaugural International Masters Games champions on Sunday.

They beat a strong Scotland Seniors in a dramatic final at Thailand’s National Stadium, twice coming from behind to lead, only for the Scots to equalise in the last minute through ex-Aberdeen star Steve Tosh.

That wasn’t the end of the rollercoaster for the English though, as the game went to penalties.

Despair was replaced with joy as Lee Henry and Mark Brady converted their spot kicks whilst goalkeeper Darren Heyes denied both Tosh and Billy McPhee.

However a miss from Danny O’Shea was followed by Scots keeper Kellidan saving from John Deacey and suddenly it was 2-2. Richie Hetherington restored England’s lead before former Inverness Caledonian striker Barry Wilson saw his kick saved superbly by ex-Forest and Wrexham keeper Heyes.

After their Thursday night setback in the Seniors World Cup, where they crashed out to Taiwan, English Veterans were on the podium as champions of the International Masters Games, a new event showcasing 12 sports in Bangkok over 10 days.

It hadn’t looked likely for the first 20 minutes of the game, which saw the Scots dominate and Berwick Rangers’ player manager Ian Little open the scoring after nine minutes.

However, the English were given a huge lift in the 19th minute when Blair Nixon’s corner eluded everybody for the equaliser.

Steve Marlow restored Scotland’s lead but striker Simon Deakin rounded Kellidan to score a second equaliser. Lee Henry slammed in England’s third before Tosh’s goal took it to penalties.

Gradually England got to grips in the midfield, and the game settled into a more even contest – but when Heyes could not hold onto a Tosh freekick, Steve Marlow followed up to restore Scotland’s lead. Back though came the English – and the pace of striker Simon Deakin took him onto Ian Simpson’s through ball to round Kellidan and score a second equaliser on the stroke of half time.