By Liam Moakes 26/07 Updated: 30/07 16:19
ANDY SMITH finally broke his Blackpool hoodoo with victory at the Winter Gardens at the seventh time of asking, but then saw his hopes of further progress ended by world champion Adrian Lewis.
The Pie Man - who had lost all six of his previous first round matches at the World Matchplay - deservedly defeated former Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson 10-6 in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday evening.
However, his dreams of progressing to a quarter-final clash today (Friday) against his great friend Terry Jenkins were dashed by a 13-7 second round loss to two-time world champion Lewis, who will become world number one if he matches or betters Phil Taylor's progress in the tournament.
World number 20 Smith moved into a 4-2 lead over Nicholson thanks to finishes of 76 and an 86 on the bull.
The Australian levelled at 4-4 but Smith soon restored his two-leg cushion at 6-4 thanks to successive finishes on double top.
Nicholson won two of the next three to cut the gap to 7-6, only for Smith to take out 74 on tops to edge away and double two to punish four misses from his opponent in moving a leg away from the win, which he sealed by landing a 180 and double eight for a 14-darter.
Afterwards the jovial Pie Man said: "I feel a little bit for Paul because he wasn't at his best and we both missed a few doubles, but I'm happy to get the win.
"It does play on your mind when you haven't had success at a venue before, but you can't let it worry you too much."
On Wednesday evening Smith's second round encounter took place immediately after Jenkins' thrilling 13-10 victory over Raymond van Barneveld, but both he and 'Jackpot' were way short of their best in a scrappy opening.
Smith struggled with the grouping of his darts and a nightmare result beckoned when Lewis - who defeated UK Open champion Robert Thornton 10-0 in round one - opened a 7-0 lead.
However, Smith showed creditable composure to launch a mid-match fightback as he reduced his arrears to 10-6 before Lewis upped his game to get over the line.
After his poor start to the match, Smith will take much heart from the fact he hung in there to hit four 180s, a 13-darter and a 100 finish with two double tops.
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