One win was a surprise; one was anything but. Yet Michael Unterbuchner and Lisa Ashton will both feel the same Lakeside euphoria tonight.

Ashton reached her second BDO World Championship final in a row – her third in total – with a 2-0 defeat of Deta Hedman. Unterbuchner claimed his fourth ever win at Frimley Green, all of which have come this year. It was the third 5-4 marathon of the day, and 11th seed Richard Veenstra was the victim.

In the opening game of the evening session, Ashton fought hard to win a game that was much closer than the scoreline suggests. It was Hedman who started much the better of the two, checking out 118 and racing into a 2-0 lead. But six set darts came and went for Hedman, whose Lakeside agony has been prolonged. Ashton’s clinical finishing when she finally got the chance is at fault for the Heart of Darts’ malaise, as well as her own profligacy. The second set again went all the way, but the Lancashire Rose was not to be denied. A better indicator of how close the game was is the averages, rather than the score. Ashton managed 83.14 to Hedman’s 82.32. But the 2-0 result was testament to the defending champion keeping her cool, and Hedman failing to. Ashton will now take on Anatasia Dobromyslova in tomorrow’s hotly anticipated final.

The Unterbuchner dream continues

After two incredible 5-4 scorelines in the men’s afternoon quarter-finals, Unterbuchner and Veenstra had a lot to live up to. Yet they didn’t disappoint. The always unperturbed Dutchman went two sets up in double-quick time. Faced with three darts to go 3-0 up, Veenstra blinked. As he did against David Cameron, Jamie Hughes and Martin Phillips, Unterbuchner took the chance when it came his way. The fourth set was another five-leg blockbuster, and was again taken by the German. The world number 79 – before January, anyway – checked out 110 in the fifth set as he took the lead.

On a day of comebacks, Unterbuchner looked to have gone all the way. The Munich man went 4-2 up, and when throwing for the match opened with six perfect darts. But the match dart missed its target, leaving Veenstra to keep his hopes alive with an ice-cool 11-darter. Needing 164 to take the win, Unterbuchner found trebles 20 and 18, but narrowly missed the bull. Again, Veenstra was there, and the gap was reduced to a single set. Soon, there was parity. Another match-winning opportunity was missed, leaving Unterbuchner’s legions of well-wishers to wonder if the chance was gone.

But this week has taught the German a valuable lesson in composure under pressure. Veenstra missed three darts at 32 – but it was no problem, as Unterbuchner was on 130. By the time Veenstra returned to his mark, the underdog had checked out that 130. Again, the game was in the palm of his hand. Another match dart came and went, but double eight proved to be his saviour. Victory was secured with an 89.65 average for Untrerbuchner, and now Mark McGeeney or Wayne Warren stands between him and a shot at the most unexpected glory. For the Dutch, their last thrower standing has fallen. For German darts fans, who have never tasted any success in world championships, there is still hope that a Weltmeister will emerge.

David Gill/DG Media

Photo: David Gill/DG Media

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Author: Edward McCosh