England Leave It Late For Classic Photo Finish

A dramatic final day at the International Indoor Tri-Nations at Eastleigh saw England win both the men's and the women's tournaments with late, late goals in two of the weekend's most thrilling matches.

Australia celebrate scoring against Scotland at the International Indoor Tri-Nations tournament, Eastleigh, December 2008Earlier in the day Scotland's women lost 3-1 to Australia to ensure that the England v Scotland game would be a 'winner takes all' affair.  If England could win that they would be champions.  If Scotland won, they would take the crown and if the game ended in a draw Australia would win.

Australia's women finished on a high with Coach Mark Sandhu delighted with the improvement they had shown over the three days of competition at Fleming Park.  Nikki Kidd had given Scotland a 1-0 half time lead with a goal in the 13th minute but just two minutes into the second half the Aussies were awarded a penalty stroke from which Erica Trahar made no mistake to equalise. 

Throughout the tournament Melissa Simpson, the Australia Captain, had led by example and it was her seventh of the tournament that turned this match in Australia's favour as she scored with nine minutes remaining and with just a minute left Emma Cobbin put the result beyond doubt, keeping alive Australia's hopes of winning the tournament. 

The resurgence of the Australian men after the opening evening has been as equally entertaining as that of the women and they demonstrated their abilities in style with a 7-3 defeat of Scotland.  The two sides each held the lead of the match during the opening period as first Stephen Dick scored a penalty for Scotland before Australia's top scorer Michael Hogan equalised from a corner and then promptly gave Australia the lead just before the break.

Calum Milne equalised for Scotland on 27 minutes but Jason Black restored the Aussies' advantage in the 31st minute. Dick completed a brace, taking the score to 3-3 with eight minutes remaining but in a repeat of yesterday's match between the sides Australia showed that they know how to strike with devastating effect in a short space of time.  With five minutes remaining Hogan completed a deserved hat-trick and three goals in a minute from Black and Allan (two) killed any Scottish hopes of sneaking three points.

The result left Scotland rooted to the foot of the table while Australia finished with nine points and a plus eight goal difference.

England's Kerry Williams holds off Scotland's Linsey Glass during the International Indoor Tri-Nations, Eastleigh, December 2008Back to the women's competition and the winner-takes-all final match between England and Scotland.  Things did not begin well for England when Nikki Kidd bagged her second of the day in the very first minute of the match and things went from bad to worse when Amy Rowan scored a second for Scotland in the fifth minute.  With Scotland the quicker to settle the game became characterised by periods of sustained possession for both sides, although neither threatened much before England were awarded a penalty stroke; Katrina Cameron adjudged to have stopped the ball illegally as it looked destined to roll over the line.  Up stepped England's Captain for the day, Kerry Williams, who cooly slotted home low to the keeper's right to pull it back to 2-1.

England's Kerry Williams celebrates winning the International Indoor Tri-Nations at Eastleigh, December 2008The second half was played at a significantly quicker pace and when Natalie Seymour equalised the passions of the crowd transfered to the pitch where both sets of players looked for the next goal.  Unfortunately for England Scotland struck next after confusion in the circle between a defender and goalkeeper Kirsty Mackay resulted in a foot and a penalty stroke that Nikki Kidd put in the same place as Williams had quarter of an hour earlier.  With four minutes remaining on the clock and Scotland on course to top the table an uncharacteristic mistake from Scottish keeper Carmen Dow allowed the quick thinking Ashleigh Ball to capitalise and knock the ball into the unguarded net from the top edge of the circle.  Suddenly, Australia were in pole position but England were back in the race.  With two minutes remaining England crucially took the lead when Williams successfully executed a penalty corner move to score her second of the game.  That was not the last twist however as the England fans had to watch nervously as their team conceded a corner just as the hooter was sounding for the end of the game.  With a hopeful Australia coach Sandhu watching from the balcony above, the ball was pulled out straight but the effort on goal was deflected high into the air and over. 

England's Kerry Williams and Sally Walton show off the plate at the International Indoor Tri-Nations, Eastleigh, December 2008All around the hall there were suddenly cheers of delight from the England women and their supporters, who had just witnessed one of the most exciting final match periods of the weekend.

England's men then took to the field against Scotland in their own final, and with a big task on their hands.  Not only did they need to win but they needed to win by five clear goals.

Like the women before them England suffered an early set-back and you can bet that losing two goals in the opening twenty seconds was not part of Coach Andy Halliday's gameplan prior to the match.  Gareth Hall and Stephen Dick gave Scotland the early foothold in the game.  It did not take long for England to get themselves right back in it though; goals from Ashley Jackson and Adam Dixon sandwiched a second goal from Dick and there soon followed the first of two for Richard Alexander in the 11th minute before Jackson scored again to give England a 4-3 half time lead.

England failed to heed Scotland's quick start the first time around and it took less than a minute of the second half for Hall to net again to pull Scotland level.  Jackson's hat-trick was complete in the 25th minute from the penalty spot as he flicked the ball inside the right hand post.  Richard Mantell then followed with a sixth, this time from a penalty corner with 12 minutes still remaining.  6-4 England.  The deficit was cut again when Dick completed his own hat-trick with just eight minutes left and with England just one goal to the good all the signs pointed to Australia winning the men's competition.

Is was a credit to England's spirit that they still believed they could do it and as the match wore on they subjected Scotland to more and more pressure in the search of more goals.  By now the crowd too sensed something magical was on the cards and when Jonty Clarke's 37th minute goal was followed up by Richard Alexander's second the noise in the hall escalated with the crowd urging England forward.  

With less than two minutes remaining England still needed to find two more goals and Halliday chose to sacrifice goalkeeper James Fair for Richard Mantell as kicking back as England pressed the Scots deep inside their own half.  When Glenn Kirkham made it 9-5 with just over a minute to go the atmosphere changed and it seemed almost inevitable when the ball was fed to Jackson in the Scottish circle that the young Beijing Olympian should finish so cooly with just eight seconds remaining to give England the five goal victory they required to leapfrog the Australians at the top of the table.

Full match reports on all the tournament's games are available for both men's and women's competitions.

Click here to see the men's match reports, table and scorers.

Click here to see the women's match reports, table and scorers.

England's men celebrate winning the International Indoor Tri-Nations at Eastleigh after beating Scotland in the final game, December 2008