Justin Thompson will take on Daryl Fitton in the first round of the BDO World Championship after a tense 3-2 victory over Chris Gilliland.
In a remarkably tight match, with all of the first four sets going to a deciding leg. It was Thompson who claimed the first, edging it with Gilliland playing below his usual standard. But it was normal service resumed in the second set for the Ginger Ninja, as he levelled matters. A cool 78 checkout, taken out in two darts, helped Gilliland on his way to restoring parity. The game lacked in quality or big scoring, but there were flashes of excellence from both players. Gilliland showed his with a 14-dart leg in the second set, followed swiftly by a 15-darter. Thompson had the chance to win the third set on the bull, but when he missed, Gilliland stepped in to go 2-1 up.
A timely 106 checkout set Gilliland on his way in the fourth set as he broke the throw. Needing 38 to win the match, the Northern Irishman missed darts at double 16 and double eight. Thompson again missed a crucial bull, but three more match darts went begging for Gilliland. There was yet more drama, though. Thompson missed darts at double eight and four, leaving Gilliland requiring double one. His three attempts were nowhere near the double. With Gilliland in the madhouse, Thompson finally pounced, and forced yet another fifth leg decider.
Nerves were clearly affecting the pair, with both making their Lakeside debut. There was only one treble in the first 12 darts of the leg, but then Thompson fired in a crucial 140. With the two both boasting a 29 per cent success rate on doubles, it was anyone’s guess who would take the all-important leg. Thompson’s scoring was proving a decisive factor, however. He added another 140 to leave 51, which he took out in two darts to take the game to a fifth set.
Thompson kicked off the decider in perfect style, hitting the double 12 for a 75 checkout to break Gilliland’s throw. The Aussie ace then missed bull for a 161, giving Gilliland a chance to break back. But 116 wouldn’t go for the younger of the pair, and Thompson was a leg from victory. Successive 140s put him on the way to a whitewash in the set, a far cry from the four that preceded it. A 138 left a two-dart finish, and double 10 rounded off the win.
Author: Ed McCosh