FYLDE coast hopes now hinge on Wes Newton at the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay after the final first-round matches brought defeat for Blackpool’s Ronnie Baxter and the shock of the tournament so far.
Andy Hamilton defeated second-favourite Gary Anderson 10-6 with finishes of 135, 130 and 122.
Anderson hit ten 180s but the Scot paid for missed doubles.
‘Rocket’ Baxter headed back to his South Shore base after an exciting 10-8 defeat by Denis Ovens, a semi-finalist in the Speedy Hire UK Open last month.
The Blackpool ace hit back from 6-1 and 7-5 down to level the contest at 8-8 before Ovens held his nerve to take the next two legs.
Baxter’s brave fightback included a superb 146 checkout in the ninth leg.
At 7-7, Baxter gave himself the chance of going ahead as he hit a 180 to leave 24, but 54-year-old Ovens from Stevenage landed a pressure double top for a 15-darter to edge 8-7 up.
Ovens then missed four darts to break in the next, as Baxter landed double top to square the contest once more, but it was the veteran from Hertfordshire who made the decisive move.
He landed a 180 to be first to a finish in the 17th leg, and although Baxter replied in kind he finished double two to move a leg away from the win, and when his opponent failed to set up a double when needing 70 Ovens secured victory on double ten.
“It’s a fantastic win,” said Ovens. “I did a nine-darter in practice earlier in the day, which is my first ever, so I knew I was playing well.
“Ronnie didn’t play as well as he can, but maybe that was because I didn’t let him. I dropped off but I get tired now and maybe I needed a sleep after ten legs or so.
“I’ve gone into this tournament with the same attitude as Darren Clarke at The Open – being happy and thinking everything’s going to go right, and I think it will.”
Ovens’second round opponent tomorrow will be Simon Whitlock, who defeated Lowestoft’s colourful Peter Wright 10-7.
Colourful qualifier Wright, who sported a Mohican with six different shades of the rainbow dyed into his hair, shared the first six legs before the Australian pulled clear.
The night’s other match was a seesaw affair which ended with 2005 champion Colin Lloyd defeated 10-7 by Scottish debutant John Henderson.
The lead changed hands seven times before Henderson won the final four legs without reply to set up a last-16 tie against man of the moment Hamilton tomorrow.
Ironically, Hamilton owed his qualification to Anderson’s win over Dennis Smith in the quarter-finals of the final Players Championship.
The second round gets under way tonight. Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld meets Paul Nicholson and world champion Adrian Lewis faces Holland’s Vincent van der Voort.
Former world champions Steve Beaton and Mark Webster clash in the opener and 2007 World Matchplay winner James Wade takes on Mark Walsh in the final match.