FORMER champion James Wade escaped a dramatic early exit in the StanJames.com World Matchplay on Sunday night, battling back from behind to defeat Andy Smith at the Winter Gardens.

The 2007 World Matchplay winner looked set to suffer an early defeat when Smith, aided by checkouts of 151 and 116, took leads of 7-5 and 8-7.

However, Smith paid the price for nine missed doubles for a 9-7 cushion, with Wade levelling before producing two superb legs to kill off his challenge, sealing victory with an 11-dart leg.

“I’ll take the win but I’m not happy with my performance,” said Wade. “Everything I did didn’t seem to work – I was throwing low of the treble and high of the treble – and Andy probably should have beaten me.

“What I did in the last two legs I probably expected to do for 15 to 20 legs and it’s puzzling, but I’ve got three days to try and put it right now.”

Wade now faces Holland’s Vincent van der Voort in the second round on Wednesday, while Co Stompe and Mark Webster also battled through tight contests to set up a round two meeting.

Stompe hit back from behind twice before defeating Andy Hamilton 12-10, while Webster defeated Adrian Lewis 11-9 in a thriller.

Webster, on his Winter Gardens debut, led 4-1 and 8-5 before Lewis won four in a row to lead 9-8 – only for the left-hander to win the next three for victory.

“I think back to last year when I was sat watching it on TV and I wasn’t even close to qualifying, and I didn’t like that,” said Webster. “This year I made it my priority to get here, and I got here and am now in the second round.

“It was a really tough game but I think I made it hard on myself. I had the game wrapped up and then I thought I was defeated, but I did enough to win the game.”

Fleetwood’s Wes Newton suffered first round heartbreak in his home event for a fourth time, losing 12-10 to Alan Tabern in another tight battle.

Tabern led 6-1 and 9-6 before Newton hit back to level, only for finishes of 110 and 101 to send the left-hander into a second round meeting with Saturday’s nine-dart hero Raymond van Barneveld.

The first round continues on Monday night, with two-time runner-up Terry Jenkins in action against debutant Steve Brown, World Championship finalist Simon Whitlock meeting Tony Eccles, Mervyn King coming up against Jelle Klaasen and Gary Anderson facing Robert Thornton in an all-Scottish battle.

StanJames.com World Matchplay
Sunday July 18
First Round
Andy Hamilton 10-12 Co Stompe
Adrian Lewis 9-11 Mark Webster
James Wade 10-8 Andy Smith
Alan Tabern 12-10 Wes Newton

Monday July 19 (7pm)
Terry Jenkins v Steve Brown
Simon Whitlock v Tony Eccles
Robert Thornton v Gary Anderson
Mervyn King v Jelle Klaasen

CO STOMPE 12-10 ANDY HAMILTON
CO STOMPE edged past Andy Hamilton 12-10 in a StanJames.com World Matchplay thriller to enjoy his first victory at the Winter Gardens.

The Dutch star was a first round loser at Blackpool on his debut in the event last summer, but made amends with a gritty display.

He enjoyed eight 180s in the game, but crucially held off Hamilton’s fightback to edge into the last 16 – with the Stoke-born thrower coming back from 8-5 down to level but never able to regain the lead.

Hamilton started well, punishing missed doubles from Stompe to win the opening two legs, although the Dutchman replied to level.

Hamilton broke throw again in the third leg, and a 74 finish put him 4-2 up – before Stompe put together a brilliant run of five successive legs to move into a 7-4 lead – hitting three 180s in the process.

Hamilton hit double five to end that run, although double top for Stompe saw him maintain his cushion at 8-5.

The pair traded 180s in the 14th leg, but a two-dart 76 finish from Hamilton was followed by a key double 16 from the Englishman in the next, punishing two misses from Stompe in reducing the gap to one.

Double 18 from Hamilton, despite a 180 from Stompe, saw him level matters, although the Dutch star landed another maximum and double top to edge the next leg.

Stompe then missed the bullseye for the match in leg 18, with double nine keeping Hamilton in the game.

The next two legs were shared, with Stompe powering home a 130 finish before Hamilton landed a 180 and a two-dart 81 finish, before double eight put Stompe 11-10 up.

The Dutchman then landed a 174 to leave eight in the next – but he missed six match darts as Hamilton battled back only to then miss six doubles of his own as Stompe posted double one for victory.

“Double one wasn’t the way I wanted to win but all that matters was that I won,” said Stompe. “I had a few 180s and that was good but the rest of my performance wasn’t great.

“It’s the result that counts and I put up a big fight. It’s the tightest game I’ve had on TV and the only one I’ve won when it was tight and I’m happy to have come through.”

MARK WEBSTER 11-9 ADRIAN LEWIS
MARK WEBSTER celebrated his StanJames.com World Matchplay debut with an 11-9 defeat of Adrian Lewis in a see-saw thriller at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

The left-hander led 6-2 and 8-5 before Lewis hit back to level and then move ahead at 9-8 – only for three successive legs to put the Welshman into round two, where he will meet Co Stompe.

Webster made the early running, recovering from missing two darts to win the opening leg by taking the next four without reply – hitting his favoured double top on three occasions in taking the early lead.

Lewis returned from the break with a 12-dart finish, featuring a 180, but Webster won the eighth to lead 6-2.

The former Lakeside champion, though, paid for a missed double 14 in the next leg as Lewis landed double top for a third leg and then stepped in after three misses at tops from Webster to trail 6-4.

A 14-darter cut the gap to one leg, but it was then his turn to see his doubles desert him – as Webster capitalised on double top twice after the 2007 semi-finalist missed a total of seven darts at a double across the next two legs.

Lewis won the next two to cut the gap to one leg, and then produced the leg of the match with a ten-dart finish, opened by back-to-back 180s in seven perfect darts before he landed double 16 to square the match.

Double 12 put Lewis in front – for the first time since the opening leg of the game – at 9-8, but Webster found a final push, firstly in levelling on tops before winning the next with the throw to move 10-9 up and then post double five for victory.

“It was a really tough game but I think I made it hard on myself,” said Webster. “I couldn’t believe how Adrian was giving me chances and I was missing them.

“I started okay but Adie gave me the chances in the first five legs, and when I went 9-8 down to be honest I thought I was gone. I was thinking about those missed doubles but I dug in.

“I had the game wrapped up and then I thought I was defeated. I got back and it was a good win for me, and I did enough to win the game thankfully. I think I deserved to win in the end and I’m dead chuffed to be in the second round on my first time here.”

Webster faces Co Stompe in round two on Wednesday, after the Dutchman edged past Andy Hamilton 12-10 earlier on Sunday evening.

“Co showed some fight too and fair play to him,” added Webster. “It should be a good game and a bit of a battle in the next round. I’m looking forward to it and glad to be through.

“I think back to last year when I was sat watching it on TV and I wasn’t even close to qualifying, and I didn’t like that. This year I made it my priority to get here, and I got here and am now in the second round.

“It’s superb – everybody said it’s the best venue and I don’t disagree. I’ve really enjoyed the first round and hopefully I’ve got a few more games to play.”

JAMES WADE 10-8 ANDY SMITH
FORMER StanJames.com World Matchplay champion James Wade began his bid to lift the trophy for a second time with a battling 10-8 win over Andy Smith.

The 2007 winner made hard work of victory, with Smith holding an early lead and remaining ahead until missing nine darts for a 9-7 lead, with Wade taking the final three legs without reply to sneak victory.

Smith took the opening leg before doubling his lead against the darts with a brilliant 151 checkout, only for Wade to fire in a 168 score in taking the third and a 180 plus a 124 bullseye finish to level.

The next six legs were shared to leave the scores tied at five-all before the pair traded 180s in the 11th, with Wade missing at double ten and double five to hit the front, as Smith held throw to lead 6-5 and then took out 116 for a 7-5 cushion.

Wade broke back on double top, and defied a maximum from Smith to win the 14th and square the game.

However, Smith again nudged himself back in front, with Wade hitting a 180 only to see his opponet post double top for an 8-7 lead.

When Wade lost his range on double top in the next, Smith saw his chance to move a leg away from the win arrive – only to then miss nine darts to win the leg as double five allowed the left-hander to square matters.

Wade then moved in for the kill, powering a 180 and double four to move 9-8 up – leading for the first time – before hitting his sixth maximum of the game in an 11-darter, secured with a bullseye-double top 90 finish, to seal the win.

“I’ll take the win but I’m not happy with my performance,” said Wade. “Everything I did didn’t seem to work – I was throwing low of the treble and high of the treble – and Andy probably should have beaten me.

“What I did in the last two legs I probably expected to do for 15 to 20 legs and it’s puzzling, but I’ve got three days to try and put it right now.”

ALAN TABERN 12-10 WES NEWTON
FLEETWOOD’S Wes Newton suffered first round heartbreak at the StanJames.com World Matchplay for a fourth time, losing 12-10 to Alan Tabern on Sunday night.

Newton entered his home tournament having been a first round victim in three of the last four years in Blackpool, and despite his best display yet on the Winter Gardens stage was left to rue defeat.

Tabern led 6-1 and 9-6 before Newton hit back to level, only for finishes of 110 and 101 to send the left-hander into a second round meeting with Saturday’s nine-dart hero Raymond van Barneveld.

While Newton took out 107 to win the second leg and level the early exchanges, it was Tabern who made the running by taking the next five legs without reply which included a 13-darter against the throw, to move 6-1 up.

Newton produced his best leg to land a 180 in a 14-darter to end that run, before finishing 101 to break throw and then win the next two legs, including an 84 bullseye finish, to pull back to one leg behind at 6-5.

Tabern kicked off the 12th leg with a 180, and a 96 checkout dented Newton’s comeback, while double top in the next moved the St Helens man 8-5 up.

The duo traded the next two to put Tabern a leg away from the win, but three missed match darts in the leg 17 gave Newton the chance to keep the game alive on double four.

Double top in the next saw the crowd favourite level at nine-all, and the pair then swapped 15-dart finishes to leave the scores locked after 20 legs.

Tabern had snatched a 9-8 win in the 2009 UK Open with a 156 checkout against Newton, and he again found the ton-plus checkouts at the right time to progress.

Newton hit a 180 in the 21st leg, but Tabern produced a moment of brilliant with a 110 finish of single 20, bullseye and double top.

Another 180 from Newton left him sat on 36 in the next leg, but Tabern broke his heart with a 101 checkout on double 12.

“It was hard-fought,” admitted Tabern. “Being 6-1 up was probably the worst position I could have been in because I’m not used to that on stage.

“I probably should have won it a lot easier because Wes wasn’t on his game, certainly early on, and I was a percentage above him, but then I found myself at ten apiece when I should have been home and dry.

“During the game I never felt like I would lose the game – in fact if I had lost I’d have gone home and cried. But those two finishes were perhaps fate, and there was a lot of emotion blew out at the end.

“We always have good matches and it’s usually finishing which separates us, which it was again this time. In Bolton I had about six finishes over 100 and another two tonight when it mattered, and I’m just happy to be in the next round.”

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