Michael Smith has secured his place in the quarter-final of the World Darts Championship after a 4-1 defeat of Joe Cullen in the last game of Friday afternoon’s action.
Last year’s runner-up is in pursuit of a second TV major of the year in North London and showed exactly why he is amongst the favourites against a helpless ‘Rockstar’.
In a tight opening set that went all the way to a fifth leg, Smith cleaned up 76 to move into an early lead.
Cullen did not let that impact him in the next set however, as he controlled it from start to finish to win three consecutive legs and level up proceedings.
Whatever Cullen could do, ‘Bully Boy’ could do even better as he averaged an astonishing 125.25 in the third set to win 3-0 without letting his opponent have a dart at a double.
Smith moved into a 1-0 lead with a break of throw in the opening leg of the next set and as he took control of the encounter.
Cullen halted his progress with a superb 153 checkout that rekindled his form amidst a cluster of missed doubles from both players.
However, he could not see out the set despite his high-scoring as Smith hit D4 at the first attempt to win the all-important fifth leg and go 3-1 ahead.
Ultimately, it was Cullen’s 20 missed darts at double that proved costly as the Grand Slam champion took advantage of his opponent’s sloppy finishing.
Yet again, the fifth set went to a deciding leg, and yet again it was Smith who came out on top as he hit a 12-darter to advance to the last-eight where he will face either Stephen Bunting or Luke Humphries.