Defending UK Open Champion James Wade survived four match points to secure his spot in the 3rd Round of the Speedy UK Open.
On arguably the best opening night in the 10-year history of the tournament, Wade came from behind to edge out Stephen Bunting 4-3.
All five Team Unicorn stars made it through to round three and guaranteed themselves £1,000 in prize money.
Colin Osborne beat John Henderson 4-2, Devon Petersen looked really impressive in thrashing Andrew Gilding 4-0, while Arron Monk and Paul Nicholson had to battle for their places in the last 64.
Monk won three games on the night....after missing darts to win 4-1 and 4-2, he produced a brilliant 12 dart leg to finally beat Paul Boulton 4-3 – hitting 180 and a 113 finish to clinch the win in a 12 dart leg.
Monk was then a 4-3 winner over Dutchman Jerry Hendricks, before beating Adam Hunt 4-3.
Nicholson was also forced to really tough it out....in round one, he beat Harry Miles 4-2 but only after his opponent had missed a dart to go 3-1 in front.
And ‘The Asset’ was playing through the pain barrier....he is still being troubled by a trapped nerve in his shoulder, but he used his experience to win a last leg decider against Tony Cooper to win through to the 3rd Round.
But the match of the opening night was that Wade/Bunting classic.
The UK Open defending champion showed a lot of resolve to win it.
“I was very lucky,” he admitted afterwards. “I know I should have lost but I am still in there fighting and buzzing for the rest of the tournament.”
Qualifier Bunting – who normally plays in the BDO – was outstanding....he went 3-2 in front hitting 180s for fun.
Bunting then missed one dart at the bull to win 4-2 and in the decider he fluffed his lines three times at D19.
And those four match darts cost him dearly.....Wade, who just missed ‘tops’ for a 135 to win the match, nailed D10 to pinch it and that was that.
By STUART PYKE at the Reebok Stadium
Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC