Gary Anderson battled past Michael Smith in a classic World Matchplay semi-final to earn his place in the 2020 final at the Marshall Arena. The world number eight closing out the victory in tense fashion as we were taken to extra time.
It was a strong start from ‘The Flying Scotsman’, with both players quick out of traps he look a 3-2 advantage from the first mini session on the Marshall Arena stage.
That lead was increased to four legs as a stunning second session swung 4-1 in favour of Anderson, with Smith salvaging a leg with a 120 checkout. Approaching the halfway mark in proceedings and the Scot maintaining an average just below the ton.
A strong session from former protege Smith put him back in the running, but still with plenty of ground to make up. But just a few legs later ‘Bullyboy’ would draw level at 9-9, his average climbing into the mid 90’s.
The crucial turning point would come at the end of the fourth mini-session. With Smith sitting on a double to make it 10-10 going into the interval, Andersson hammered home a 128 checkout to create breathing room once again.
Anderson would break the Smith throw following their return to the board as he cruised into a four leg advantage. But the following five legs would all go the way of the former World Youth Champion as the pendulum swung back in the direction of last years Matchplay runner-up. A spectacular 116 checkout would stop the rot as the finish-line came into view for both players.
Experience would be the telling factor as the match went to extra time, but there would be no sudden death leg this time around as Anderson secured his place in the final with a superb win over the new world number four.
WORDS BY JOSH GREEN
PHOTOS BY LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC