Phil Taylor marked his return to televised darts with a comeback victory over his old rival Peter Manley, to progress to the quarter-finals of the inaugural World Seniors Championship on Friday.
‘The Power’ was featuring in his first televised clash since succumbing to Rob Cross in the 2018 World Championship final, and his return fittingly came at the iconic Circus Tavern, where he captured 11 of his 16 world titles.
The Stoke-on-Trent legend received an extraordinary reception from the capacity crowd in Purfleet, but he made a tentative start against his former nemesis Manley, who was bidding to avenge defeats in the 1999, 2002 and 2006 World Championship finals.
‘One Dart’ lived up to his nickname in a hard-fought first set, converting an 84 combination via double 16 to seize the early initative. Taylor struggled for fluency in the opening exchanges, with a maximum followed by a two-dart 82 kill in leg two providing a rare highlight.
Taylor responded with a sequence of five successive legs to assert his authority on proceedings, although after halving the deficit in set three, Manley was left to rue a major missed opportunity, spurning two darts at tops to restore parity and subsequently throw for a 2-1 lead.
The 16-time world champion was unable to lay down on a marker on his return, although he was rarely troubled by Manley, reeling off consecutive 16-darters to close out a convincing 3-1 success with a modest 81.29 average.
The 61-year-old will now renew his rivalry with former Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter in the last eight, in a repeat of their epic World Championship final in 2004.
‘The Artist’ brushed aside 2020 BDO world champion Wayne Warren in sublime style, averaging 94.59 to record a nine-leg rout against the struggling Welshman.
Painter prevailed in a five-set tiebreak against Tony O’Shea in his opener on Thursday, although his progression was far more serene against Warren, as he converted 64% of his attempts at double to cap off an imperious performance.
In arguably the match of the tournament, three-time BDO world champion Martin Adams produced an inspired display of big finishing to edge out qualifier Richie Howson in a gripping five-set battle.
Home favourite Howson defeated former BDO World Trophy winner Darryl Fitton in round one, and he appeared poised to claim another major scalp after establishing a 2-1 lead against ‘Wolfie’.
Nevertheless, the 65-year-old, who took out 156 en route to scooping the second set, registered finishes of 136, 150 and 157 to restore parity at two apiece, before wrapping up a sensational win with a majestic 153 outshot – his fifth ton-plus checkout of the evening.
Two-time PDC major winner Robert Thornton recorded another straight-sets success to storm through to the quarter-finals, accounting for ten-time women’s world champion Trina Gulliver MBE in the process.
‘The Thorn’ averaged 94.66 in the tournament’s curtain-raiser against Bob Anderson, and the Scot reaffirmed his credentials by landing four ton-plus finishes to defeat ‘The Golden Girl’, who avoided a whitewash defeat by opening her account in the penultimate leg.
Nine-time PDC major finalist Terry Jenkins will face four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton in a fascinating second-round clash, following an emphatic 3-0 win over 2004 UK Open winner Roland Scholten.
‘The Bull’ scooped 11 ranking titles during his PDC career, but his bid for an elusive televised crown saw him dispose of the Dutchman in convincing fashion, featuring 117 and 108 checkouts.
Elsewhere, 1994 World Matchplay champion Larry Butler rolled back the years to sweep aside former World Grand Prix champion Alan Warriner-Little, who was plagued throughout by a shoulder injury.
‘The Bald Eagle’ has not featured on the televised stage since suffering a major heart attack in June 2018, yet he underlined his quality with a dominant display, reeling off nine unanswered legs and threatening a spectacular nine-darter in the closing stages.
Qualifier Dave Prins will play his darting idol John Lowe for a place in the quarter-finals, after dumping out ‘The Singapore Slinger’ Paul Lim in an entertaining affair.
‘The Badger’ received a late call-up for the event following Kevin Burness’ success at Qualifying School last month, and Prins averaged 90.12, landed five 180s and converted three ton-plus finishes to advance.
In the afternoon’s curtain-raiser, former BDO world champions John Walton and Les Wallace were embroiled in a marathon five-set tussle, with Walton eventually coming out on top to set up a second-round tie against three-time world champion John Part.
Walton squandered nine match darts to complete a straight-sets victory, sparking an unlikely fightback from ‘McDanger’, who registered two ton-plus checkouts to force a fifth and final set. Wallace claimed an early break in the decider, only for Walton to convert finishes of 80, 66 and 70 to seal his progression.
Image Credit: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics
Friday February 4
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
First Round (Best of 5 sets)
Les Wallace 2-3 John Walton
Paul Lim 1-3 Dave Prins
Alan Warriner-Little 0-3 Larry Butler
Terry Jenkins 3-0 Roland Scholten
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Second Round (Best of 5 sets)
Wayne Warren 0-3 Kevin Painter
Martin Adams 3-2 Richie Howsonn
Phil Taylor 3-1 Peter Manley
Trina Gulliver 0-3 Robert Thornton
Saturday February 5
Afternoon session (1300 GMT)
Second Round (Best of 5 sets)
John Part v John Walton
John Lowe v Dave Prins
Keith Deller v Larry Butler
Lisa Ashton v Terry Jenkins
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Quarter-Finals (Best of 5 sets)
Part/Walton v Ashton/Jenkins
Robert Thornton v Lowe/Dave Prins
Phil Taylor v Kevin Painter
Deller/Butler v Martin Adams