England pair work overtime

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The England pair of Gary Smith and Andy Thomson were made to work hard for their first-round victory over the Welshmen Islwyn Morgan and Colin Piper in the Churchill Insurance World Indoor Pairs championship in Preston yesterday.

Smith and Thomson took the opening set 7-5, but then surrendered a 6- 3 lead in the second as Morgan and Piper recovered to snatch a 7-6 win. The Kent players, who won the tournament two years ago, took the third set 7-6 and then wrapped up victory with a 7-2 win in the fourth.

Thomson admitted: "It was a lot closer than we expected. Islwyn and Colin came back really well after dropping the opening set. We were lucky to win the third and that made a big difference."

The opening day, on Monday, was a marathon affair with the six first- round pairs matches lasting 17 hours and 40 minutes. The final match, between Scotland's David Miller and Hugh Duff and Australia's Steve Glasson and Ian Taylor, eventually finished at 2.45 yesterday morning, with the Scots winning 7-6, 1-7, 7-5, 7-1.

Duff, the former world indoor singles champion, was critical of the organisation. "We didn't start our match until 12 minutes past midnight and that's nonsense. After all, it's a world title we are playing for."

The Scots recovered from 5-2 down in the opening set and, despite losing the second, pushed themselves back into the driving seat with a 7-5 win in the third. They then needed just five ends to wrap up victory with a 7-1 win in the next.

Also through to the quarter-finals are Scotland's Graham Robertson and Mark McMahon. They won the last two sets to beat off a strong challenge from Greg Harlow and Mervyn King, of England. Harlow and King recovered from 5-1 down to take the opening set 7-6, lost the second 7-5 but moved ahead again with a 7-3 win in the next.

The Scots found themselves in what appeared to be a hopeless position when they trailed 2-5 in the fourth set, but a double followed by a three saw them take the set 7-5 and they went on to clinch victory with a 7- 4 win in the decider.