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John Henderson edges tense World Championship opener against Marko Kantele

John Henderson in action against Marko Kantele. Photo by Shane Healey/ProSports/Shutterstock
John Henderson in action against Marko Kantele. Photo by Shane Healey/ProSports/Shutterstock

Huntly’s John Henderson progressed to the second round of the World Darts Championship with a 3-2 victory against Finland’s Marko Kantele.

The Highlander made only 13 of his 40 attempts at double on his way to victory.

Henderson will face number 17 seed Jonny Clayton in the second round on Sunday night.

Hendo cruised to the opening set by winning three successive legs with Kantele averaging only 74.

The pair had only met once before three years ago in the same competition with Henderson triumphing 3-0 and it looked like a similar scoreline was on the cards early on.

But the Huntly arrowsmith’s prowess on the doubles went missing early in the second set to allow Kantele back into the match as he claimed the set in the deciding leg after Henderson squandered two darts for a 2-0 lead.

The Scot upped the ante to claim the third set before the drama continued in the fourth with Henderson missing a match dart at tops for a 111 finish before Kantele found double 16 to send the tie into a decider.

But Henderson emerged victorious in the fifth set, missing three match darts before finishing a scrappy contest with double six.

Henderson said: “I know I have struggled all year, as everybody else has but I just couldn’t get going.

“On the practice board I just can’t miss that treble-20 but tonight I just couldn’t find it.

“I had nine practice darts before I came on and I hit 180, 140 and 121 so I thought my throw was feeling good.

“It just disappeared.

“I feel for Marko as he is a lovely lad.

“I don’t like to disrespect any darts player and I’ve won there but that was awful.

“It is all about getting through that first round. I’m happy to be through that first game.

“I was nowhere near anything tonight. I’m not happy with the way I played.

“I’m not going to say I’m disgusted because I don’t want to disrespect Marko but we both know we can play a lot better.

“The main thing was getting through because the first round is awful.

“It is horrible and you are playing here with no crowd which is something we all need to get used to.

“It is the same for both players but it really is hard.

“I’m so glad to get through but it was terrible.”

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