Ilkeston’s Simon Skelton keeps brilliant run going at World Indoor Singles bowls championship

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Simon Skelton’s incredible run at the World Indoor Singles continued as he edged past former winner Darren Burnett to match his run of 10 years ago when he last reached the semi-final.

His 6-6 6-5 victory over the Scot was one of the tensest matches of the tournament, with Skelton nearly blowing leads in both sets as he scrambled over the line.

After eking out a 6-3 lead after eight ends and looked well poised to take the initiative, he should have lost the first set when he left Burnett holding a three with one bowl to come and the usually-reliable Arbroath copper left his bowl agonisingly short and the set was halved.

In the second set, with both players struggling to find a rhythm of any sort, Skelton managed to forge 5-1 clear with three ends to go, but proceeded to drop two doubles in a row, leaving the match open a knife edge on the final end.

Skelton stuck his first bowl on the jack, but Burnett whipped it off, so the management accountant put another one close and with the Scot opting to go with weight, he missed his target by a whisker and it was Skelton who celebrated a momentous win and a place in the last four.

“I thought my first bowl was good, particularly in the first set,” said Skelton. “I was just trying not to leave a target for Darren as he is such a good hitter, one of the best in the top 16.

“It was difficult because Darren is so good at hitting, once I got my first bowl I didn’t want to build the heads up. You know always have a chance, it’s about getting your bowls round about.”

On his resurgence this year, after failing to get past the second round in 10 years, Skelton added: “I went through a bad spell, like all players do, had a few bad results and injuries, and I am here to win it this year, I am not bothered about being in the top 16. Bowls is not as important to me now as it used to be and I don’t feel the pressure as much.”