St Helens darts ace Michael Smith loses dramatic final leg in Masters final

Michael Smith just fell short in the Masters final. Picture: PDC.TV
Michael Smith just fell short in the Masters final. Picture: PDC.TV

Michael Smith still remains the 'nearly man' of the darts world after a heart-breaking defeat to world champion Peter Wright in last night's final of the Ladbrokes Masters at Milton Keynes.

The 29-year-old St Helens lad came within a whisker of clinching the title but blew his chance at 10 across with darts in hand to secure a dramatic and nerve-tingling victory.

It was yet another major championship in which Smith has failed to deliver the goods when it mattered most after successes in the earlier rounds against Mensur Suljovic, Adrian Lewis and Nathan Aspinall.

Smith said: ''I wanted the title so much but I think I threw too hard at double 20 to win the match.When the darts left my hand, I felt they were going in.''

He added: ''It's another runners-up trophy to add to my big collection but I will get over it and I'll be back on the board tomorrow practising double top.''

Scotsman Wright looked in full control when opening up 5-2 and 8-5 leads, only for the fellow first-time Masters finalist to dig deep and make a real fight of it.

Bully Boy, seeking his maiden major televised title, got the game back on throw when reducing the deficit to 8-7, even though he was only averaging 88 compared to Wright's 96.

Smith then took out a fabulous checkout of 130 to complete a 15-darter when his opponent waited on 80 but was left to rue a dart at tops for a break of throw in the next as Wright edged ahead.

Snakebite would then blow three clear darts at double 16 for a 10-8 lead and the 29-year-old made him pay on tops to restore parity in the tense closing stages of the tournament.

Wright recovered from more missed doubles to hold his nerve for a 10-9 lead but Smith produced a brilliant 11-darter to take the match into a deciding 21st leg.

The crowd sensed a landmark moment for Bully Boy when he responded to Wright's opening visit of 58 with his eighth 180 of the match and then got down to 98 with his opponent way back on 287 before a score of 100 applied a little pressure.

Smith then left himself 40 but he agonisingly missed all three attempts after the Scotsman's brilliant visit of 171 and that would be his last visit to the oche as Wright completed a remarkable victory.