Fleetwood’s Wes Newton survived a huge test of character to reach the quarter-finals of the BetVictor World Matchplay darts at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
He won after a tie-break against Paul Nicholson, defying the odds as he battled back from 5-0 and 8-3 down.
Newton didn’t lead until the 27th leg of a thriller that gripped the packed auditorium
Newton was clearly out of sorts at the outset and the opening session could hardly have been worse as Nicholson moved into a 5-0 lead.
Newton’s timing and precision was awry and his frowning countenance told its own story.
Newton had chances to open his account, but in the first three legs, he missed no fewer than five doubles.
Nicholson ended the first session with a marvellous finish of 142 to cement his lead.
By the end of the second session, Newton had pulled the leeway back as the score stood at 7-3 in Nicholson’s favour.
In the sixth leg, Newton landed a double for the first time at the 11th attempt, a clear indication of how moderately he had been performing.
He took the seventh leg and the 10th, the latter with a flourish on the bull - and then the fightback started.
Newton started to find something like his optimum form, taking the third session 4-1, highlighted by a superb 11-dart leg in the 12th.
By the start of the fourth session, Newton had whittled Nicholson’s lead back to 8-7.
The Fleetwood world ranked number 11 was starting to get up a head of steam and levelled it at 10-10 - a 139 finish in the 19th leg showing tremendous accuracy under pressure.
At 13-13 apiece the contest went into tie-break territory and it was Newton who held his nerve to take the final two legs and clinch his place in the last eight.