We should be getting used to these upsets by now but I’m sure very few outside The Cave would have predicted Wayne Mardle going out to Alan Caves last night. Semi finalist for the last three years, Mardle had high hopes of going one better. Instead he will be skulking off back home reflecting on a year that fizzled out months ago. He actually should have won after completing an amazing comeback from 2-0 down. He had several darts for the match on his favoured double eighteen but couldn’t hit it. The Caveman hung in, hit crucial doubles to stay in the game and won it 5-3 in the tie-break after Mardle again missed doubles. Mardle will be kicking himself today while Caves moves into the second round of a televised tournament for the first time ever. His glee was evident as he sat next to Dave Clark in the studio for the first time milking the moment.

That was the only shock of the evening games where the other three went with the form book. Steve Beaton whitewashed Gerry Convery in a superb display and although Dennis Priestley wobbled in the middle he triumphed over Josephus Schenk without losing a set. Priestley revealed he’d been watching tv at home on his new exercise bike to get a bit of fitness for this year – all the walking to the board and back can take it out of you so stamina is crucial..! The other match of the evening went to James Wade who broke his Purfleet duck in beating New Zealand qualifier Warren French. He stuttered slightly when set to close the match out and allowed French to take the third set but he scrapped hard to overcome missed double and seal the win. There were a host of missed doubles in the match by both players and at times it looked like neither wanted to win.

The afternoon matches threw up a couple of defeats for the seeds – Lionel Sams played really well but still lost to debutant Dave Ladley in a good contest. Per Laursen is representing Denmark for the first time here and edged out Colin Monk with a solid display. The 3-0 scoreline suggest an easier win than it actually was, but Laursen showed some quality and set up a second round clash with Dennis Priestley. The other two afternoon games saw last years semi finalist Wayne Jones go through 3-0 against Ian Branks. Branks has knocked out John Lowe in the qualifiers and admitted that was his highpoint. Jones played solidly to win each set 3-2 and progress to a showdown with Adrian Lewis.

The final match of the afternoon saw well tipped outsider Andy Hamilton up against quarter finalist from a year ago Gary Welding. Hamilton took the match 3-0 but it was a closer affair with some comical moments thrown in! Hamilton threw well and always looked the likely winner but missed doubles could easily have cost him if Welding hadn’t been equally errant with his. The third set provided the comedy as both players traded missed doubles and couldn’t hit the proverbial barn door. Hamilton found himself on 5 with Welding needing 4. The Hammer stepped up and took out double two with one dart, thinking it was the winning dart! The realisation that he’d just taken out Weldings score brought much amusement and Welding promptly hit his double to take the leg. Hamilton recovered and won the game to ensure he wouldn’t regret his error.

Day Three Results – First Round – Wednesday 20 December
Afternoon Session
Wayne Jones 3-0 Ian Branks
Lionel Sams 2-3 Dave Ladley
Colin Monk 0-3 Per Laursen
Andy Hamilton 3-0 Gary Welding

Evening Session
Steve Beaton 3-0 Gerry Convery
Dennis Priestley 3-0 Josephus Schenk
Wayne Mardle 2-3 Alan Caves
James Wade 3-1 Warren French

Day Four Matches – First Round – Thursday 21 December
Afternoon Session
Dave Askew v Martin Burchell
Andy Smith v Shi Yongsheng
Wes Newton v Tetsuya Wada
Andy Jenkins v Bill Davis

Evening Session
Mark Dudbridge v John Kuczynski
Roland Scholten v Ron Miller
Kevin Painter v Colin Osborne
Alex Roy v Richie Burnett