Michael van Gerwen ensured his quest to reach the Premier League Darts play-offs will go down to the wire after…
Michael van Gerwen ensured his quest to reach the Premier League Darts play-offs will go down to the wire after a comeback win over Gary Anderson, while Nathan Aspinall and Peter Wright also claimed victories.
Five players will now battle it out for the three remaining Play-Off places on Saturday’s final league night in Milton Keynes, with no player having joined Glen Durrant in progressing so far.
Defending champion Van Gerwen had won two just of his last seven games heading into his must-win clash with Anderson, but dug deep to reel off the last three legs from 6-5 down to take the two points.
A point for Anderson would have seen him mathematically secure his spot in the Semi-Finals, but the Scotsman will be made to close out the job on Saturday.
Van Gerwen stormed into a 5-2 lead with finishes of 92, 70 and 61 along the way, but only for Anderson to reel off four in a row to move in front.
Defeat for Van Gerwen would have put a severe dent in his Play-Off chances, but the world number one produced the best possible reaction by winning the final three legs to remain in contention.
“I had to work really hard for it but I think Gary got away with six legs because I missed so many darts at my doubles early doors, and I can only blame myself,” said Van Gerwen, who has topped the league phase for the past seven seasons.
“I could have won much easier but I had to keep my cool. At six-all the pressure is really on you and I’m happy with the two points.
“I think it was my best performance in the last two weeks, but Gary is the perfect opponent for me.
“I need to make sure I win my own game tomorrow and we’ll see what happens. I’ve still got a chance and that was the most important thing today – I’m still hanging in there and there is still hope.
“It’s tough but I know what I have to do. It’s still open for everyone to qualify so you have to make sure you do the right things at the right moments.”
Van Gerwen enters the final night of league action outside of the top four on legs difference, with Aspinall three legs better off.
Aspinall remained on course to reach the play-offs in debut campaign after a hard-fought 8-5 victory over Daryl Gurney.
Aspinall raced into a 3-0 lead but soon found himself trailing 5-4 to Gurney, who once again produced a determined performance despite being mathematically unable to reach the top four.
However, Aspinall regrouped, hitting his fourth and fifth 180s and a 100 finish as he reeled off four straight legs to pick up a vital two points and remain in fourth position.
“Tonight was the most nervous I’ve ever been before a match so I’m proud of how I handled myself,” said Aspinall.
“I believe I belong on that stage and I want to show it every time I’m up there.
“I just want to get in that top four and I want to win this tournament. Some people might say I want it all too quick.
“I don’t make things easy for myself though. It would be nice to start winning games more comfortably.”
Wright cemented third spot courtesy of a hard-fought 8-6 win over Glen Durrant, bringing the league leader’s ten-match unbeaten run to an end.
Both players were below their brilliant best for much of the contest, and after the first six legs were shared, Wright broke throw with double 12 to lead 4-3.
Durrant, who had fought back to draw three of his last four matches, took the contest the distance again, but there was to be no escape this time for the three-time BDO World Champion.
Wright fired in a 180 and held his nerve to pin a last dart double one – with Durrant was waiting on 112 – to claim a crucial two points in his bid for a first appearance in the Play-Offs since 2017.
“I needed the win because the pressure was on, and it was two important points,” said Wright.
“I’ve shown everyone that I can win ugly as well. I felt really good and I don’t know what happened on stage – neither of us were at our best and I got away with it.
“Glen’s qualified and it must have been hard for him tonight but it means a lot if I can get into the Play-Offs.”
Meanwhile, Gerwyn Price picked up a well-earned point from his high-quality battle with Michael Smith to stay in sixth place, but is within two points of the top four and could still sneak into the Play-Offs if he defeats Anderson and both Aspinall and Van Gerwen lose.
The Welshman averaged 103.76 to Smith’s 102.5 in a game which saw 14 maximums thrown as Price held his nerve in the final leg of the contest to draw for a fifth time in the season.
Price had agonisingly missed double 12 for a nine-darter during the match and went on to land a 164 checkout in a blistering battle.
“I was always chasing Michael and it was a difficult game but it was enjoyable,” said Price.
“Michael was hitting 180s for fun but I kept my cool and I’m proud of myself.
“I didn’t want to be making up the numbers tomorrow and I’m still in the running. I’ve always played it down but I want to get to the finals and win this tournament.
“I still want to stay in – I have to rely on other results but I’m playing a bit better and I’m full of confidence. I need to bring my A-game if I want to get anything against Gary.”
Premier League Darts 2020 Results
Friday September 4
Nathan Aspinall 8-5 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 8-6 Glen Durrant
Michael van Gerwen 8-6 Gary Anderson
Michael Smith 7-7 Gerwyn Price