By Jethro Bremner-Allison.
BROMANCE BRIEFLY SET ASIDE AT THE GARDENS
Darts finest double act since Terry Jenkins and The Pie Man took the Sky cameras with them to the Pleasure Beach, treated us to an absorbing quarter final. It was the Asp who put aside the bromance to register a stunning 16-12 win.
“I love him to bits” Asp said afterwards “we knocked two tonnes of s*** out of each other up there, he’s my best pal but we have to be professional”
With legendary boxer Ricky Hatton watching on, the Stockport man dedicated his win to him.
Dobey & Aspinall have been housemates for the week, arriving at the venue side by side, taking part in a Mr & Mr game pre-match and even sporting the same footwear. There was never any danger of needle on the stage, however there was no doubting both were there to win. However Aspinall had one worry post-match, not knowing if Dobey will let him back in the house “He’s got the keys!” he joked.
It was Dobey who was the main man in the first half of the match, he led 7-5 but this was the turning point as an Aspinall blitz saw him winning 9 of the next 10 legs to take a seeming unassailable 14-8 lead. As Dobey looked punch-drunk, Aspinall smirked to his family knowing he had his opponent where he wanted him.
As the shackles loosened on Dobey, he broke in 11 darts in leg 25 and held in 26 to bring it back to 4 behind and all of a sudden there was a shaft of light for the amiable Geordie.
However the double trouble returned in leg 25 and Aspinall breathed a sigh of relief as he reached the cusp of a massive win. A final defiant 11 dart leg from Dobey was met with a knuckle tap from Aspinall, but this time he would not be denied as he tidied up a 25 to book his semi final spot.
“I’ve only had my darts for a month and a half, but thanks to Target, I feel so confident with them” an ebullient Asp added before celebrating with the buoyant Blackpool faithful.
Joe Cullen rocked into his first ever semi final at the Matchplay after a hard fought 16-11 win over Daryl Gurney in the first quarter final at the Winter Gardens.
Mimicking MvG in his post match interview he joked “I did the right things at the right time. Phenomonal”
Whilst Rory Bremner is safe in his job, Cullen is doing enough every round to progress and is showing genuine title ambitions.
Gurney’s form, which had seen him dispatch two world champions in previous rounds, deserted him as he lost the first session 5-0 and it was an uphill battle from there. Not only did his average drop to 92, the man who’s doubles were unmatched this week dropped to less than 1 in 3.
The Rockstar controlled the match from the outset in truth, breaking Daryl the first 4 opportunities he had, moving ahead and proved he was a reliable front runner without ever threatening anything spectacular. The game really didn’t have great rhythm and the crowd were overall intrigued but subdued.
Over the course of the match, Gurney occasionally loomed into the rear view mirror of Cullen, but every time this was the case, he eased onto the accelerator to pull away once more. When Gurney put together a flawless 132 outshot in leg 12, Cullen put his own 142 in leg 13 to silence any thoughts of a comeback.
In leg 25 Gurney missed bull for a 161 finish and with it, it felt like the final chance to catch Cullen had come and gone. Discouraged by his doubles desertion and the angle of his darts in the board, his shoulders dropped in recognition of the inevitable.
Cullen didn’t look back, all the fires had been extinguished and all that was left with a double top for the match, which he placed in with minimum fuss.
“We didn’t play our best, I ground it out” admitted Cullen but he was hopeful of his chances in the semi final versus Dobey or Aspinall “They’re both great lads, they’ll fancy their chances versus me and I definitely fancy my chances versus them”
Images by Taylor Lanning.