American Steve Brown secured a second-round clash with 10-times world champion Phil Taylor after a thrilling victory against wild card entrant David Platt in the opening match of the PDC Ladbrokes.com World Championship at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern this afternoon.
Platt, a Staffordshire county player who only qualified for this tournament by winning a competition organised by The People newspaper, made Brown work surprisingly hard to earn his tie with Taylor.
The 35-year-old qualifier from Walsall roared out of the blocks to establish an early two-set advantage, winning the opener 3-1 then checking out on 106 to wrap up the second set in three straight legs.
But, Brown, a semi-finalist here in 1994, showed his experience and calmly clawed his way back into the match by winning five straight legs on his way to levelling the game at 2-2.
The fifth set was a much closer affair which went down to the deciding leg and Platt was made to pay the penalty for missing three set-winning darts at doubles with Brown capitalising to go 3-2 ahead.
And that proved to be the pivotal moment in the match as the world number 25 saw off the amateur 3-1 in the sixth set, helped by a fabulous 132 outshot, to book his place in round two.
Brown, 40, was quick to pay tribute to Platt and claimed his experience had ensured his safe passage into the last 32.
He said: “He was playing ever so well. I started off okay and won the first leg but he just let rip and won the first two sets.
“The important thing was I didn’t want to be three down in a seven-set game, so I got it to 2-1 and thought ’at least I’m in the game now’.
“The one thing that was in my favour was that I’m a little bit more used to the length of the format than he is. I’m just an old git with bags of experience!
“Although I didn’t know Dave – I thought David Platt was a footballer actually – once I found out he was a Staffordshire player, I knew he’d be used to the stage and the lights.”
And Brown was looking forward to the prospect of playing Taylor tomorrow night as he hopes to avenge a 1994 semi-final whitewash at the hands of the darts legend from Stoke.
“The first year I came here I got to the semi-finals, but I couldn’t hit a double and he beat me five straight. I missed doubles in each of the first three sets and should have been three sets up.
“A lot of players, even experienced players, get up there and get scared by Phil and try and match him.
“I know he’s good, but I won’t try and match him because I know I can’t.
“I’ll just get up there, play my game and not worry about what he’s doing and if he gives me shots at doubles, it’s up to me to take them.”
In this afternoon’s other matches, 57-year-old Reg Harding from Lewes edged out Derbyshire qualifier Mark ’The Jam Man’ Robinson 4-3 in a nail-biting contest while Manchester’s Mark Holden and Dave Smith of Leeds also slugged out all seven sets.
Harding trailed 3-0 after Robinson’s lightning start, but launched a magnificent fightback to level the match at 3-3 before coming through a tense final set 4-2 to seal a place in round two against Kevin Painter.
And Harding was joined in the last 32 by world number 26 Holden, who will now face Jamie Harvey after edging a dour battle against Smith.
World Championship, Circus Tavern, Purfleet
Steve Brown (Eng) bt David Platt (Eng) 4-2,
Reg Harding (Eng) bt Mark Robinson (Eng) 4-3,
Mark Holden (Eng) bt Dave Smith (Eng) 4-3