Stevenson qualifies for Minehead event helped by win over world champ Cross in PDC Players Champions

A WIN over the current world champion Rob Cross has helped to put Plymouth professional darts player Simon Stevenson in the PDC Players Championship finals, despite two qualifying events still remaining.

The Mirror Man made sure of his place in the Butlins Minehead event next month, after winning 3,000 order of merit points in September.

He now stands in 38th place, which puts him 4,500 points in front of the 64th placed finals cut-off point, with just two more Players Championship events to come later in the month, before the finals are contested from November 23-25.

Stevenson (91.5) began Players Championship 17 with a 6-4 victory over Matthew Edgar with his best leg coming in 13 but found Joe Cullen too good in the next round and went down to a 6-3 defeat.

He fared a lot better the following day and hit a 97.2 average when stopping Mickey Mansell’s progress in Players Championship 18.

Stevenson won the early exchanges to lead 2-1, only for the Irishman to take four on the bounce in 15, 11, 16 and 14 to move just one leg away from victory at 5-2.

But all credit to Stevenson who never let his head drop and he took the next four in 16, 17, 18 and a leg in 12 which he finished with a kill of 136 to progress to the next round.

The Plymouth marksman then had to come face to face with the current world champion Rob Cross, but he took it all in his stride and went 3-0 up, aided by two legs in 15.

“Voltage” pulled two back, only for Stevenson to take the next two in 18 and 17.

Cross then finished a brilliant 12-darter with a kill of 136 but it was not enough as Simon took the next for an excellent 6-3 victory.

That success put him in the last 32 but he found the 29-year-old Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp too good on the day and lost 6-4.

Stevenson carried his good form into Players Championship 19 and defeated his first opponent Alan Tabern 6-1, achieving a 94.80 average and notching five maximums.

Simon began with a leg in 15 and ended by hitting two 180s in a 12-dart final game.

He then had to come up against Ian White a winner of no fewer than nine Players Championship events.

But Stevenson seems to up his game when it comes to the “big boys” and he went 4-0 up against the Stoke thrower aided by an 18-darter which he finished with a kill of 105.

White halted his demise by taking the fifth leg and then began the sixth with back to back 180s but was denied the nine-darter and had to settle for a win in 11.

But that was the last leg he won as Stevenson took the next two in 17 and 13, for a 6-2 victory, posting a 96.50 average.

That put The Mirror Man into the last 32 where he came from behind to defeat Cameron Menzies 6-4 before facing Andrew Gilding in the last 16.

Gilding was the quickest off the blocks and raced into a 4-0 lead, but Simon halved the deficit when winning the next two in 13 and 14.

A 15-darter from the 47-year-old put him 5-2 in front and although Stevenson dug deep and won the next two legs in 17 and 13, an 18-darter in the 10th leg sealed Gilding’s 6-4 success.

But this was another good showing from the Plymouth marksman, evident in the fact that he achieved a 95.00 average against Gilding’s 88.30.

Any hopes that Stevenson could improve on his ranking were squashed the following day when, he came up against an in-form Ricky Evans in Players Championship 20 and lost 6-1.

Evans, arguably the quickest thrower on the PDC circuit, achieved a 101.40 average when winning legs in 11, 16, 15, 15, 17 and 14.

The last two Players Championship events will be contested over the weekend of October 20-21 at the Barnsley Metrodome.

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