There were some notable scalps taken in the first session on day two of the Players Championship Finals in Minehead this afternoon. Mensur Suljovic, Dave Chisnall and Robert Thornton followed Raymond van Barneveld, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson to the exit door.

The best of the lot was world number five Suljovic’s stunning defeat to Stephen Bunting, who looks set to surpass his scintillating form upon joining the PDC. The ‘Bullet’ held his nerve and his throw early on, then punished the Austrian for a wayward dart at his favoured double 14. Bunting’s 100 average was supplanted by a 66 per cent doubles success rate, with key finishes of 79, 82 and 84 on the bull to take the 6-3 win. Suljovic was strong on double 10 but wasteful on tops, and will rue his many missed chances.

Chisnall was the first victim of a shock as he was dumped out 6-3 by 39th seed William O’Connor. ‘The Magpie’ was given a glimmer of early hope as Chisnall missed seven darts to win the opening leg. The first break secured early, O’Connor gathered momentum and raced into a 4-0 lead. Chisnall, averaging below 80 in the early stages, briefly threatened a revival, but it didn’t last. The underdog never entertained any thought of getting involved in a long slog, and superb tops-hitting secured the win with a 50 per cent doubles success rate. O’Connor will face either Justin Pipe or Ron Meulenkamp in the next round.

Chris Dobey put paid to Thornton’s Players Championship hopes with a thrilling 6-5 victory on board two. Both missed match darts before Dobey kept his nerve to land double 16. The youngster had led 3-0 and 4-1, landing a 120 checkout on the way, but the ‘Thorn’ refused to give in. Thornton entered into his second deciding leg in two days hoping to do what he did to James Richardson in round one. But he only got a chance to finish when Dobey dragged a dart at tops into the single five. Thornton couldn’t punish Dobey, however, and a potential clash with Daryl Gurney awaits the rising star.

It was easier going for Darren Webster, who averaged north of 100 in a convincing 6-3 defeat of Mervyn King. The East Anglian battle looked tight on paper, but Webster gained control with an early break and did not look back. Two ton-plus finishes, including a 120, means the ‘Demolition Man’ will most likely have a chance of main stage revenge over Michael van Gerwen tonight.

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Author: Edward McCosh