PDC Home Tour Play-Offs: Nathan Aspinall denies Jose De Sousa to reach semi-finals
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By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 02/06/20 7:31am
Nathan Aspinall edged out the enigmatic Portuguese No 1 Jose De Sousa in a tense affair to progress through to the PDC Home Tour semi-finals on Monday evening.
By his own admission, Aspinall has been nowhere near his brilliant best throughout the Home Tour, but he's through to the next stage of the Play-Offs with a 100 per cent record, courtesy of a narrow 6-4 success against Portugal's Man O'Scores.
Former European Tour winner Jamie Hughes was forced to settle for third spot, whilst unheralded Spaniard Jesus Noguera ended the night winless, despite his performances meriting greater reward.
The quartet had all sealed their Play-Off spots at the first time of asking in the tournament's first phase, but De Sousa was the most impressive performer, averaging over 104 as he breezed to top spot in Group 25 with whitewash wins over Robert Thornton and Keegan Brown.
Aspinall and De Sousa were touted as the two major players in the group and so it proved, with the pair winning their opening two fixtures to set up an enthralling finale. However, it was the Premier League debutant who delivered in a nervy affair to progress to the semi-finals.
"I was very nervous. I played well in patches but I didn't play like I can. It's so tough playing at home. I was shaking," admitted Aspinall.
PDC Home Tour - Monday's results (Group Seven)
|Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Jesús Noguera|
|Jose De Sousa 6-1 Jamie Hughes|
|Jesus De Sousa 6-4 Jesús Noguera|
|Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Jamie Hughes|
|Jamie Hughes 6-4 Jesús Noguera|
|Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Jose De Sousa|
Group Seven - final standings
|(1) Nathan Aspinall||6||+8|
|(2) Jose De Sousa||4||+5|
|(3) Jamie Hughes||2||-7|
|(4) Jesús Noguera||0||-6|
"It's weird, we play these guys week in week out. We all want to beat each other. I'm very happy and hopefully I can improve going into the semi-finals."
Aspinall and Noguera kicked off Monday's action with an entertaining affair and the Spaniard - playing from his friend's office in Orihuela - made a sublime start, firing in consecutive 13 and 12-dart legs to lead 2-1 with a 113 average.
'The Asp' was unable to produce his trademark fireworks but as top operators so often do - he produced the goods at crucial moments and closed out a 6-4 success despite averaging three points less than Noguera.
De Sousa, fresh from his devastating exploits last month, continued from where he left off in a 6-1 demolition of Hughes in his opener - averaging 103.50 in a sparkling display.
'Yozza' drew first blood with a clean 66 kill on tops before 'The Special One' ran riot, reeling off six consecutive legs and landing two 11-darters in the final three legs.
De Sousa and Noguera collided in an all-Iberian clash in the third tie of the evening and Noguera opened up with a classy 90 checkout on the bull, only for his Portuguese counterpart to produce a spectacular 156 finish moments later.
De Sousa was unable to reel off six consecutive legs for the second straight game as the Spaniard rallied to move 3-1 ahead, but the two-time Pro Tour winner responded; winning five of the last six legs in 14, 12, 15, 16 and 17 darts.
This put Noguera out of contention for top spot and Aspinall curtailed Hughes' slender hopes with a hard-fought 6-2 victory minutes later.
The world No 7 was indebted to Hughes' profligacy on the outer ring, as the former BDO man spurned 17 of his 19 attempts at double. Aspinall struggled to find his range in the scoring department, but a 60 per cent success rate on the doubles proved decisive.
This left Hughes and Noguera battling it out for third spot in the night's penultimate encounter and the former European Tour winner claimed that particular consolation, defying a valiant fightback from the Spaniard to wrap up a 6-4 triumph.
De Sousa had the edge over Aspinall based on their form during the night, but the former UK Open champion stormed into an early 3-0 lead, following up 13 and 14 dart-legs with a crucial break of throw in leg three.
The world No 59 rallied and finishes of 102 and 68 helped him restore parity at four apiece, but Aspinall replied with a two-dart 76 kill to move to the cusp of victory, which he duly sealed via double six after De Sousa had attempted an audacious tops tops finish when requiring 80.
Aspinall is the third top-10 star to progress to the semi-finals, following in the footsteps of his Premier League colleagues Gary Anderson and Rob Cross, and he'll take on 'Voltage' in Thursday's second semi-final group.
The semi-final line-up will be completed on Tuesday when Jonny Clayton pits his wits against two-time world champion Scott Waites, German number one Max Hopp and Carl Wilkinson.
PDC Home Tour - Tuesday's final second phase group
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