Ilkeston bowler Simon Skelton produces shock win at World Indoor Championships
Ilkeston's Simon Skelton produced the biggest shock of the first round so far at the Just World Indoor Singles as he defeated second seed David Gourlay MBE 8-7 7-6, at Potters Leisure Resort.
Gourlay had been tipped in some quarters to add a second world title to his CV, 23 years after his first, but he was outmuscled by the brilliant 46-year-old Skelton, who produced one of his best displays on the portable rink in recent times.
Skelton, a former two-time semi-finalist, may not be a member of the top-16 anymore, but that hasn't stopped him making repeat trips to the event as he has become adept at making it through the tough qualifying tournaments and after winning the Lincoln event late last year, he once more made it back to the 'home of indoor bowls'.
He was paired with the in-form Gourlay, with the 1996 world champion enjoying a purple patch in the twilight of his career, having won two WBT tournaments last season. And when the Scot, who was recently awarded with his MBE, carved out a 6-1 lead in the first set, the omens did not look good for Skelton, who had only made it past the first hurdle in this event once since 2012.
But in a remarkable turnaround, Skelton bagged five shots in two ends to move one shot ahead, and then after edging a further shot ahead with just one end to play, he conceded just a single to take a one-set advantage.
Considering the recent fortunes of the two players, it was a surprise to see the relentless Skelton pound the recently-crowned 'WBT Player of the Year' into virtual submission in the second half of the match, with Gourlay struggling to cope with his opponent's barrage of high-quality drawers.
The Scot finally registered on the scoreboard after five ends, but was 6-1 down by that stage. Skelton made it 7-2 with two ends left, but then dropped a three after attempting to fire himself to victory. But with Gourlay needing another treble to prolong the match, he scored just the one to send Skelton through to a second-round encounter with either Jason Greenslade or South African qualifier Craig Rimmington.