WAYNE MARDLE will take on reigning Rileys Darts Zones UK Open champion Phil Taylor at the Reebok Stadium on Friday night, as the world’s top players enter the tournament at the third round stage.

Mardle overcame Mick McGowan 6-3 as the £200,000 event kicked off on Thursday night, with the Essex man holding off the challenge of both the Irishman and his own nerves to progress to the last 64 in Bolton.

The game was Mardle’s first appearance on television since he slumped to Germany’s then-unknown Jyhan Artut in the first round of the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship in December, but he admits he will enter Friday’s clash with Taylor in confident mood.

“I’m happy to get through and I can relax on Friday,” said Mardle. “I was a bag of nerves and I’ve got no composure at all at the moment. I’m scoring well and have to convert those positions into wins.

“I have to go into the game with Phil confident. I’m a professional dart player and I’m going up there to win it – and I know how good I can be if I play my best game. I’ve not done it for a couple of years on TV but I’m getting back there.”

Another crowd favourite, Peter Manley, suffered disappointment in his bid to retain a place in the world’s top 32, losing 6-3 in the second round to St Helens-based 19-year-old Michael Smith.

Smith was one of a number of youngsters who shone on the tournament’s opening night, with 18-year-old Reece Robinson, a Rileys Amateur Qualifier from Hull, rewarded for three victories on the night with a clash against World Championship runner-up Simon Whitlock in the third round.

Robinson whitewashed Scotland’s Hugh Ringland in the preliminary round to begin his charge, and dropped only five legs in subsequent wins over Danny Pinhorne and Louis Blundell to reach the last 64.

Another eye-catching youngster was Ireland’s William O’Connor, who whitewashed Stuart Monaghan in round one with a 94 average and then defeated Stoke’s Mark Frost 6-3 to reach the last 32 in his first ever appearance in a major tournament.

“I’m speechless,” admitted O’Connor, who drew Lowestoft’s Peter Wright in round three. “I’m delighted to win two matches and I’ll prepare myself for Friday night and hopefully do well again.”

Bradford’s young star Joe Cullen, 20, overcame Darren Latham and Mike Nott to reach the third round, where he meets world number four Mervyn King.

Other eye-catching third round games include Michael van Gerwen against Gary Anderson, three-time World Champion John Part against Mark Walsh – who was the leading qualifier for the event with two wins in the eight qualifying events – and Wes Newton against world number five Terry Jenkins.

2008 UK Open champion James Wade will begin his challenge for a second Bolton title with a clash against Coventry’s Steve Hine, who defeated Ian Gleeson and Melvyn Johnston to progress.

The father-and-son combination of Colin and Arron Monk both won through to round three, with the elder defeating Darren Johnson 6-4 before cheering his 20-year-old son to a 6-3 win over Nick Fullwell.

Kirk Shepherd, the 2008 World Championship finalist, edged out Adrian Gray 6-4 and now meets Paul Nicholson, who was a 6-4 winner against Leeds’ Dave Smith in round two.

Two-time World Champion Dennis Priestley faces Steve Maish, Adrian Lewis takes on Michael Barnard, Ronnie Baxter drew York’s Chris Thompson and 2009 UK Open runner-up Colin Osborne meets Gibraltar’s Dylan Duo.

2004 UK Open champion Roland Scholten’s reward for a win over Rileys Amateur Qualifier Joe Palmer is a clash with Plymouth-based newcomer Simon Cunningham.

Gary Mawson, the runner-up in Bolton two years ago, defeated Essex-based tractor driver Ashley Whisker in the preliminary round but then lost 6-4 to Duo in the first round.

Robinson is joined in the third round by fellow Rileys Amateur Qualifiers Tony Broughton, Pete Fisher and Paul Warwick, with the quartet the most successful of the 32 players who had won places at Bolton by coming through knockouts held in Rileys clubs around the UK.

Broughton, from the Isle of Wight, now takes on Kevin McDine, Oxford’s former European powerlifting champion Fisher faces Sussex’s Tony Ayres and Milton Keynes-based Warwick drew Co Stompe.

Play continues at 7pm on Friday night at the Reebok Stadium, with tickets still available on 0844 871 2932 or from the Bolton Wanderers Box Office in person.

Live coverage of the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open is available on Sky Sports HD1 and also, for users outside of the UK and Ireland, via www.pdc.tv.

Rileys Darts Zones UK Open
Preliminary Round

Gary Mawson 6-2 Ashley Whisker
Darren Webster 6-3 Andy Hutchings
Jyhan Artut 6-1 Kevin Dowling
Dylan Duo 6-2 Dean Stewart
Prakash Jiwa 6-4 John Lakeman
Scott Rand 6-1 Andy Murray
Steve Farmer 6-5 Par Riihonen
Jason Clark 6-4 Kevin Lowe
Reece Robinson 6-0 Hugh Ringland
Peter Hudson 6-1 Paul Neate

First Round
Louis Blundell 6-5 Richie Burnett
Joe Cullen 6-1 Darren Latham
Steve Hine 6-5 Ian Gleeson
William O’Connor 6-0 Stuart Monaghan
Matt Padgett 6-3 John Quantock
Paul Whitworth 6-5 Chris Loudon
Dave Smith 6-3 Peter Hudson
Steve Farmer Bye (Dean Edlin disqualified)
Tony Hutchinson Bye (Darren Sullivan disqualified)
Melvyn Johnston 6-3 Sam Allen
Joe Palmer 6-1 Bradley Williams
Jason Clark 6-4 Ryan Murray
Robbie Newland 6-5 John Robertson
Paul Gibbs 6-3 Mark Wilson
Darren Webster 6-1 Dean Harris
Scott Rand 6-3 Jyhan Artut
Gary Eastwood 6-5 David Martin
Henry O’Neill 6-2 Michael Hammond
Mike Nott 6-2 Dave Honey
Jay Foreman 6-1 Barrie Knight
Jamie Green 6-1 Alex Harrison
Ricky Evans 6-4 Noel Grant
Paul Warwick 6-3 Henry Murphy
Simon Cunningham 6-4 Prakash Jiwa
Mark Harris 6-2 Matt Draper
Anton Liscsey 6-3 Paul Rowley
Martyn Turner 6-4 Nicky Bache
Dylan Duo 6-4 Gary Mawson
Tony! Broughton 6-3 Mark Stephenson
Pete Fisher 6-2 Barrie Webb
John Bowles 6-4 Simon Jones
Reece Robinson 6-4 Danny Pinhorne

Second Round
Kirk Shepherd 6-4 Adrian Gray
Wayne Mardle 6-3 Mick McGowan
Arron Monk 6-3 Nick Fullwell
Alex Roy 6-3 Mark Lawrence
Kevin McDine 6-2 Jamie Green
Steve Beaton 6-2 Ricky Evans
William O’Connor 6-3 Mark Frost
Paul Nicholson 6-4 Dave Smith
Chris Thompson 6-4 Justin Pipe
Dennis Smith 6-1 Robbie Newland
Dylan Duo 6-4 Gary Eastwood
Andy Smith 6-5 Darren Webster
Colin Monk 6-4 Darren Johnson
Mark Cox 6-5 Henry O’Neill
Reece Robinson 6-1 Louis Blundell
Matt Padgett 6-5 Jason Clark
Wayne Atwood 6-4 Steve Brown
Michael Barnard 6-3 John Bowles
Mark Harris 6-4 Martyn Turner
Robert Thornton 6-2 Paul Gibbs
Michael Smith 6-3 Peter Manley
Steve Hine 6-1 Melvyn Johnston
Tony Broughton 6-4 Scott Rand
Pete Fisher Bye (Chris Mason withdrew through illness)
Steve Evans 6-1 Tony Hutchinson
Joe Cullen 6-3 Mike Nott
Roland Scholten 6-3 Joe Palmer
Paul Warwick 6-3 Steve Farmer
Tony Ayres 6-4 ! Paul Whitworth
Barrie Bates 6-5 Anton Liscsey
Stephen Hardy 6-4 Jay Foreman
Simon Cunningham 6-5 Stuart Dutton

Third Round Draw
Main Stage
Mervyn King v Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Wayne Mardle v Phil Taylor
Reece Robinson v Simon Whitlock

Board Two
John Part v Mark Walsh
Kirk Shepherd v Paul Nicholson
Wes Newton v Terry Jenkins
Steve Hine v James Wade

Board Three
Steve Maish v Dennis Priestley
Andy Smith v Colin Lloyd
Vincent van der Voort v Wayne Atwood
Barrie Bates v Alex Roy

Board Four
Mark Webster v Tony Eccles
Kevin Painter v Mark Harris
Dylan Duo v Colin Osborne
Roland Scholten v Simon Cunningham

Board Five
Denis Ovens v Arron Monk
Matt Clark v Michael Smith
Stephen Hardy v Alan Tabern
Andy Hamilton v Brendan Dolan

Board Six
Robert Thornton v Mark Cox
Steve Beaton v Jamie Caven
Mark Dudbridge v Nigel Heydon
Tony Broughton v Kevin McDine

Board Seven
Peter Wright v William O’Connor
Adrian Lewis v Michael Barnard
Paul Warwick v Co Stompe
Ronnie Baxter v Chris Thompson

Board Eight
Tony Ayres v Pete Fisher
Steve Evans v Jelle Klaasen
Dennis Smith v Colin Monk
Wayne Jones v Matt Padgett

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