Ryan Searle recovered from 3-0 down to defeat Michael Smith in a thrilling decider on Day Two of the 2021…
Ryan Searle recovered from 3-0 down to defeat Michael Smith in a thrilling decider on Day Two of the 2021 European Darts Championship in Salzburg.
World Grand Prix quarter-finalist Searle went some way to avenging his World Matchplay loss to Smith earlier this year as he produced a superb late surge to edge a high quality First Round contest.
Smith stormed into a 3-0 lead and also lead 4-2 before Searle hit back with finishes of 86, 121 and 60 to turn the match on its head and go in front.
Smith replied with a 13-darter on tops to force a decider, but Searle returned the favour with a 13-dart leg of his own on tops to clinch victory.
“In that last leg I just wanted to hit the tops and not mess about, and luckily enough it went in,” said Searle. “A couple of years ago I may have given up at 3-0, but I dug in.
“When I was 3-0 down I was thinking that if I could get it back to 3-2 at the break I had a chance. I hadn’t travelled this far to give up, and I showed I’m here for the long haul.”
Meanwhile, former European Champions Michael van Gerwen and James Wade will collide in Salzburg on Saturday night after coming through their First Round ties.
Four-time winner Van Gerwen averaged 100.5 in beating Boris Krcmar 6-2, while 2018 champion Wade came through a last-leg decider against Adam Smith-Neale.
Seeking a first ranking title of 2021, Van Gerwen dominated his meeting with Croatia’s Krcmar, converting six of his 11 attempts at doubles and landing a 128 checkout in a comfortable win.
“In the beginning I think I played really well,” Van Gerwen reflected. “I think I controlled the game and my focus was there, my confidence was there and that made me win this game.
“That’s one done and now it’s on to the next one. It suits my game, from here on I think I can show some more and do some more damage.
“I feel comfortable, my game is starting to get somewhere and I hope I can continue the good form.”
It was a less straight-forward passage through for world number four Wade as he recovered from 4-2 down to edge past debutant Smith-Neale.
With Smith-Neale waiting on 100 for the match, Wade found a last dart double five to avoid joining Peter Wright in a shock early exit.
World Champion Gerwyn Price laid down a marker by averaging 104.5 in his 6-2 defeat of Ritchie Edhouse.
Price, the 2019 European Championship runner-up, took control of the tie from the outset and was on target with 50% of his checkout attempts to deny debutant Edhouse.
“It was a steady performance and I did the right things at the right times,” said Price. “I wasn’t under much pressure but I was pretty steady today.
“It’s a longer format now and I’ll be more comfortable. I’m playing well and I just need to be on my A-game.
“I’m happy with the performance and I can build from that – if I want to win this tournament, I have to play a bit better.”
Price’s second round assignment will see him take on 19-year-old Czech star Adam Gawlas – who enjoyed a 6-4 debut win over Joe Murnan.
Danny Noppert, World Grand Prix semi-finalist last week, continued his fine form with a 102.3 average in a convincing 6-2 win over Krzysztof Ratajski Ratajski.
Fifth seed Nathan Aspinall battled his way to a 6-4 victory over Mervyn King and will now face Damon Heta, after the Australian displayed some clinical finishing in a 6-3 defeat of Gabriel Clemens.
European Darts Championship 2021 Day Two Results
Friday October 15
Adam Gawlas 6-4 Joe Murnan
Krzysztof Ratajski 2-6 Danny Noppert
James Wade 6-5 Adam Smith-Neale
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Mervyn King
Michael Smith 5-6 Ryan Searle
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Boris Krcmar
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Ritchie Edhouse
Damon Heta 6-3 Gabriel Clemens