Nathan Aspinall’s World Matchplay campaign came to an end in the quarter finals at the hands of the Green Machine, Michael van Gerwen. The Asp has been struggling with injury this season, so to see him back competing with the best is exactly what we want to see.
The Asp was struggling for large parts of the match before mounting a comeback, almost pulling off the most miraculous turnaround in Winter Gardens history.
After the first 10 legs, Van Gerwen had raced into a 7-3 lead in a best of 31 legs match before moving 11-4 up over the Mancunian.
It was then a mini revival from Aspinall who won three legs on the spin to close the gap to 11-7 before falling 15-10 behind, with his opponent needing just the one leg for victory.
Then came Aspinall’s run, winning four legs on the bounce to close to 15-14 and he was throwing first in the 30th leg to force the game into sudden death.
However, after missing match darts in the previous leg after whistling from the crowd disrupted Van Gerwen, he broke Aspinall’s throw to advance to the semi-final and silence the whistles.
One moment that got people talking was Aspinall’s actions before the break after 20 legs where he pinned tops to move to just four behind at 12-8.
After hitting the leg winning double, he turns to the VIP area where his family and friends will have been sat watching and supporting.
Normally, they look over for support and to celebrate when they hit winning doubles and at other big moments in the match, but Aspinall shocked us all with his gesture towards them.
It appears he was signalling someone from his corner to meet him outside in the break between the sessions asking for a cigarette.
Comically, the first thing on his mind after hitting a key double at a crucial time with his opponent sitting on 45 to capitalise was to have a smoke.
It clearly worked for the Asp who mounted a serious comeback but just didn’t have enough to get over the line and complete the turnaround.
Aspinall’s impressive run was ended after securing a 10-5 win over the in-form Luke Humphries in the opening round, before squeezing past The Machine, James Wade 11-9 in the second round.
He was classy after his defeat, tweeting: “The support I have received this week has been amazing. Thanks to everyone. So many positives to take away from this week. Thought I had it at the end but @MvG180 showed his class when needed. Well done mate and good luck for the rest of the tournament.”