Simon Skelton is through to his first World Indoor Singles quarter-final for 10 years after a nerve-shredding 6-6 6-5 victory over 14th seed Jason Greenslade at Potters.
The Ilkeston bowler, who had to win five matches at the Lincoln qualifier just to make it to the event, produced the biggest shock of the first round in knocking out third seed David Gourlay, and followed that success up with a gritty defeat of Welshman Greenslade.
Skelton reached the semi-final stage in both 2008 and 2009, but since then he has failed to make it past the second round and had suffered four first-round exits in his previous five visits to the Hopton-on-Sea venue. But he has rolled back the years with two vintage displays and has his sights firmly fixed on causing more damage in Norfolk.
“I’m delighted to be back in the quarter-final, it’s been a few years,” said Skelton. “I dropped out the top-16, so had to play a few games just to get here and I’m looking to go further now having lost twice in the semi-final.”
With confidence sky high after beating the WBT’s player of the year a few days earlier, Skelton managed to turn around an early 3-0 deficit into a 6-4 advantage by end eight, but with a first set win in his sights, he dropped consecutive singles to hand Greenslade a lifeline as the Welshman tied the set up.
These two wily old campaigners, rather surprisingly, have never met before at Potters and the lure of a quarter-final spot made for a tension-fuelled second set, with both players struggling to bowl with any sort of consistency as nerves took hold in front of a large crowd.
It was virtually singles all the way, with neither player managing to break free, but Greenslade bowled in with his final delivery on the eighth end to hold what could be defining one-shot lead going into the final end.
The Penarth civil servant, though, produced his poorest end of the set, not getting anything within a couple of feet and Skelton, holding shot, needed to bowl in with his final delivery to win the match. That he did, just, but it needed a measure to confirm his victory and passage through to the last-eight.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking really,” said Skelton of his winning bowl. “It’s not easy to get centre rink on there, but I knew I was good pace, but the bowl was just hanging off. I still wasn’t sure whether it had got in or not when it came to the measure, but I knew I had a good chance.”
Skelton will now meet either Mervyn King or Darren Burnett on Friday, with those two schedule to clash on Thursday morning.