Praise for Norfolk darts ace

JONATHAN REDHEAD Darren Webster's world title dream came to a sudden halt last night as he fell victim to another master class from legend Phil Taylor. The 38-year-old window fitter from Norwich had fought his way through to the quarter-finals of the world championships.

JONATHAN REDHEAD

Darren Webster's world title dream came to a sudden halt last night as he fell victim to another master class from legend Phil Taylor.

The 38-year-old window fitter from Norwich had fought his way through to the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes.com World Championship at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, with a series of fine wins.

However, like many others before him, Webster, known as 'The Sniper', found the 13-times World Champion far too strong and suffered a comprehensive 5-1 defeat.


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But he was still delighted with his performance at a tournament which saw him record his first-ever televised win and end up collecting a career-best cheque for £12,500 after three successive wins.

Taylor, nicknamed 'The Power' is the greatest player in darts history. He had lost only one set in reaching the quarter-final with a 103 dart average.

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Going into the match, Taylor was rated by some bookmakers as a 100/1 on favourite.

And the odds decreased even further in the first set as the champion blitzed Webster 3-0 in quickfire time, as the Norfolk man tried to settle in a packed arena.

Webster was never given a chance to relax by the relentless Taylor, although he did have one chance to register - only to miss double top three times.

After that he had to wait until the ninth leg of the match, when he drew huge cheers from the crowd as he closed out 81 with a bullseye.

It was only a brief respite for the Norwich City fan, who was throwing almost ten points up on his tournament average at around 95, as Taylor swept to a 3-0 sets lead.

The biggest difference between the pair was the finishing as Taylor racked up a 58pc checkout ratio, while The Sniper was misfiring, with only one double hit in 13 attempts, although he did lead with three 180s to Taylor's two.

However, Webster did make it two doubles out of 17 attempts to take the first leg of the fifth set as he tried to avoid a whitewash. And suddenly Webster found some inspiration from somewhere, as he took the second leg with a 164 finish on the bull, the joint highest of the week.

Riding on the crest of the wave, he then did the unimaginable and took the third leg in just 13 darts, to win the set and earn a generous handshake from The Power.

Normal service was resumed in the sixth set as Taylor won the second leg with the 'shot of the week', on bull and cleaned up the third leg for victory and a semi-final against Andy Hamilton, with a 101.5 average compared to Webster's fine 95.16.

After the game, the smiling Webster admitted that nerves had been the reason he struggled so badly with doubles in the opening sets of the game.

“I enjoyed myself because I actually started playing my darts at the end,” he said. “It was a bit late. I should have kicked in at the start and we could have had game on.

“I thought I scored quite well but my finishing at the beginning, was not good. I was a bit nervous obviously coming up there the first time. But as I settled in I started playing my darts in the last couple of sets.

“It was just nerves. It was getting used to the board as well because, the throw is different up there to the practice board and you have to adapt to it, but that's Phil's home ground there and he knows exactly what to do. It took me a little while but it was too late unfortunately.”

But Webster did have the pride of finishing with a 164 in the sixth set. It was not only the highest checkout of the tournament so far but it was described by Taylor as “one of the best shots anyone's had against me in my career.”

“That felt really good and I went a bit mad,” he said. “I started off a little iffy, but then showed everyone that I can throw darts and that's what it's all about. I'm happy to play like that against him.”

Taylor was full of praise for Webster, describing him as a “lovely, lovely kid,” and adding: “He's better than that. Early doors he missed a couple of doubles and if they had gone in it would have been a different game, believe me.

Taylor is now on course for what many consider the dream final against Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld on New Year's Day - when the winner will be collecting a cheque for £100,000.

Van Barneveld had things even easier against Alan Tabern, who appeared overwhelmed by the occasion and missed many doubles as he failed to take a set off the four-time Lakeside world champion.

He will meet Andy Jenkins in the semi-finals after the 35-year-old from Hampshire repeated his heroics of 24 hours earlier to come through another final-set thriller against qualifier Colin Osborne.

A second Jenkins, world number six Terry, just missed out on the last four as he went down 5-4 to Andy Hamilton - who now faces Taylor.

That was a humdinger, with a deciding ninth set again required following a terrific comeback from Jenkins after he had lost the first three.

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