It was another action-packed night at the World Matchplay, but mixed fortunes for Team Unicorn.
Gary Anderson threw away a 5-0 lead to lose to Dean Winstanley.
Also on Tuesday night, Wes Newton raced through to the 2nd Round as he beat PDC Unicorn Youth World Champion James Hubbard 10-5....but there was a baptism of fire for fellow Unicorn star Joe Cullen, who lost on his Blackpool debut 10-4 to Justin Pipe.
Newton will now face Pipe in the 2nd Round on Thursday night.
But Anderson featured in one of the best 1st Round matches in Matchplay history, but yet again, he threw away a match he should have won.
The Scot was 5-0 up and coasting against Winstanley, who was making his Blackpool debut....Anderson even had seven perfect darts in the 8th leg as he moved 6-2 in front....little were we to know it at the time, but the 9th leg proved pivotal.
The World No.4 missed seven darts for a 7-2 advantage and it surely would have been game over....instead, his opponent roared back, winning eight of the next 9 legs!
Anderson was shell-shocked as his game fell apart.
Somehow though, he dug deep and found another gear....from 6-8 down, he won three brilliant legs – including an 11 darter, a 7th maximum and a 120 check-out.
It looked like his game, because in the next leg he left himself on D4 to win the match, only for Winstanley to produce a miraculous bull shot to take out 82 when it looked impossible to find the target because of a ‘blocker’ dart!
It meant a tie-break....it went 10-9, 10-10, 11-10, 11-11 before Anderson was broken.....in the next leg he missed one dart at ‘tops’ to stay in the match and Winstanley finally took it to win a total tungsten thriller.
“I should have wrapped it up,” lamented Anderson. “It is my own fault. I don’t know what happened in the middle of the match but fair play to Dean - and that 82 on the bull was incredible. I guess after all the problems with my eye over the last few weeks, I have to take consolation that I was up there competing and giving it a real go”
Well, Newton - The Fleetwood ‘Warrior’ had to battle – but battle he did to reach round two of his ‘home’ tournament at the Winter Gardens.
He started with a terrific 105 finish despite a Hubbard 180 in the opening leg.....Newton was never behind in the match....he led 4-3 after the first seven legs were won on throw.
The next five legs were all won against the throw! Young Hubbard was playing superbly, hitting five 180s against Newton, but Wes used every ounce of his experience.
An 80 finish from Hubbard meant Newton was 6-5 in front but then he put his foot on the accelerator....finishes of 91, 62 and 91 again as he won four consecutive legs to get over the line with an impressive average of 98.23.
“I was nervous,” Newton admitted. “I’ve hardly played over the last few weeks because on the Pro Tour, I kept getting byes in the 1st Round and then losing the next game. But it is satisfying to get the job done and I will improve.”
But Cullen will feel desperately disappointed that he didn’t do himself justice on the Winter Gardens stage, but he will have to learn from the experience and make sure that he is back in the next TV ‘Major’ and the one after that.
We all know just how talented he is and he has a major future in the sport....this will go down as a blip against a player who suffered the same fate when he first started appearing in the PDC TV events.
It has taken Justin Pipe 18 months to feel comfortable on the big stage.....Cullen will get there, of that there is no doubt, but this just wasn’t his night.
The Unicorn ace made a slow start – clearly nervous on his Blackpool debut – and never recovered from that....he found himself 0-4 down against a man in form.
But there was some consolation for the young man from Bradford. He had the crowd on its feet after banging in the first 170 finish of the week! He also hit a classy 108 finish as he started to find his feet, but he ran out of time and despite hitting four 180s, Pipe hit the winning D16 to seal his emphatic win.
The aim for Cullen will be to get himself into the World’s top 32 in the next six months and qualify for the World Grand Prix and World Championship.....he has the game to achieve a lot in the sport. The rest is down to him now!
Tuesday 1st Round results:
Justin Pipe 10-4 Joe Cullen
Wes Newton 10-5 James Hubbard
Gary Anderson 11-13 Dean Winstanley
Dave Chisnall 7-10 Ronnie Baxter
Wednesday 2nd Round schedule (best of 25 legs):
Michael van Gerwen v Steve Beaton
James Wade v Mark Walsh
Raymond van Barneveld v Terry Jenkins
Adrian Lewis v Andy Smith
By STUART PYKE at the 2012 Betfair World Matchplay
Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC