PLYMOUTH’s Simon Stevenson returned to winning ways on the PDC circuit and was one of 18 UK players that qualified for the European Darts Matchplay with a good performance at Halle 39, Hildesheim, last night.
His first opponent was Peter Hudson who went 2-0 up in 16 and 17 only for The Mirror Man to level.
Hudson restored his two-leg advantage when winning the next two in 13 and 11, aided by his third and fourth maximum, but the Plymouth marksman responded by taking the next three in 21, 17 and 18 to lead for the first time at 5-4.
The 35-year-old Eccles thrower levelled in 16 but in the deciding leg, and after Hudson had missed darts for the match, Stevenson checked out from 102 to make the board final.
Steve Beaton now stood between Stevenson winning Euro qualification, a player that he had only defeated once in six attempts and it was the Bronzed Adonis who struck first when taking the opening leg in 14.
Simon levelled in 18 and then edged 2-1 in front before an 18-darter from Beaton (pictured below) brought the two players level at 2-2.
The next two were both shared and won in 13 and they were again all level at 4-4 before a 21-darter from Beaton put him just one leg away from victory.
But all credit to Stevenson who battled to win the next in 17 and in one of the best legs of the day, The Mirror Man went up to the oche and threw 137, 140, 96 before checking out from 128 for a win in 12 and qualification for the European Darts Matchplay which will be contested at the Maimarkthalle in Mannheim, Germany, over the weekend of September 6-8.
Competitors were back on the oche hoping to gain qualification for the International Darts Open, which will take place over the weekend of September 13-15 at the Sachsenarena in Riese, Germany.
Stevenson’s opponent was Tom Lonsdale who had been a finalist in the Plymouth Open back in June, only to lose 6-4 to Kevin Painter, but took the opening leg in 17.
Stevenson finished in two darts from 100 to level in 14 and then moved 3-1 in front when taking the next two in 13 and 18.
The 23-year-old Somerset marksman levelled in 17 and 13 but aided by three 140s, Simon edged in front again at 4-3 when winning leg seven in 13.
Lonsdale, to his credit, never gave up and made it 4-4 before two legs in 18 and 19 respectively was enough to get Stevenson over the line.
Now bidding for a European qualification double, Stevenson faced Brett Claydon, a player who in his previous match had defeated the World Matchplay quarter-finalist Stephen Bunting and won the early exchanges to go 2-0 up.
Stevenson pulled one back in 15 only for the Cambridge thrower to restore his two-leg lead with a win in 17.
Claydon still held the advantage after the next two legs were shared only for The Mirror Man to win two on the bounce to level at 4-4.
A solid 13-darter put the 36-year-old 5-4 up but Stevenson did have his chances to level to take this into a sudden death 11th leg.
Stevenson went to the oche with three darts needing 24 but scored 21 and Claydon stepped up to checkout in two from 86 for a 6-4 win.
But his was a much better showing than we have seen of late from Stevenson and hopefully this encouraging performance will auger well when he returns to the Halle 39 today, to compete in Players Championship 21, followed by Players Championship 22 on Sunday.