Below-par Taylor crashes out

Salisbury Journal: Phil Taylor crashed out at Alexandra Palace Phil Taylor crashed out at Alexandra Palace

An off-colour Phil Taylor crashed out of the PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace to end his hopes of a 17th world title.

Taylor produced an error-strewn display as he was beaten by Michael Smith in the second round.

The 16-time world champion was well below his best as he slumped to a 4-3 defeat against the world youth champion.

The 23-year-old finished Taylor off in style, producing 11 and 13-dart legs in the decider before clinching the set 4-2 on the bull.

Taylor sought to stamp his authority on the match from the start and produced a 156 checkout to win the opening leg against the throw, rattling through the first set without missing a double.

The second set was a different story, though, as Taylor's accuracy on the doubles deserted him.

Both players went down to double one in the second leg, with Smith ending the agony on the way to levelling the match.

Taylor started the third set slowly, but fought back to edge into a 2-1 lead, only for Smith to punish more inconsistency from the world number one to make it 2-2.

Taylor lurched into a 3-2 lead after Smith threw away six darts to take the set, but the young challenger was throwing the more fluent darts and made it 3-3.

An 11-dart leg put Smith within one leg of the biggest win of his career and a 13-dart leg did so again at 3-2.

And this time he closed out the victory, punching the air in celebration.

"I'm lost for words," he said. "Nobody expected me to win and I had no pressure on me, but I showed I've got fight in me, I've got tenacity and I proved I can play darts on TV.

"When Phil hit the 156 to win the first leg I thought I was going to get beaten in 12 legs. But he wasn't holding his throw and I had to take my chances, and when I broke him in the second set I believed I could do it.

"I didn't even realise that I'd won the game until I heard the referee call 'Game, Shot' after I hit the bull for the 128 finish. The fourth set, when I missed doubles to go 3-1 up, was still playing on my mind and I didn't think I was throwing for the match.

"I've beaten the best player in the world and my aim now is to put my name on this trophy - and I'm confident I can win this tournament now."

Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld survived a major scare against Jamie Caven before clinching a 4-3 victory.

The five-time world champion fought back from a set down to take a 2-1 lead, a 12-dart leg against the throw looked set to prove a turning point in the match.

But Caven battled back, missing a dart at double 12 for a nine-dart finish on his way to making it 2-2 and then moved 3-2 ahead.

But he lacked the killer touch to finish the Dutchman off and Van Barneveld fought back again to take a topsy-turvey contest.

"What a player," Van Barneveld said of Caven. "He was never ever missing doubles tonight. That's why he kept me under pressure."

Peter Wright was also a second-round winner as he saw off Per Laursen 4-2.

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