Darts: Misfiring Taylor in struggle to rediscover top form

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The Independent Online

Phil Taylor saw off the brave challenge of Mark Walsh on Saturday evening in the second round of the PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace in London.

Walsh, ranked 30th in the world, pushed the world No 1 all the way and claimed an unexpected 3-2 lead, having earlier been 2-0 up, before "The Power" battled back to take a hard-fought 4-3 win. And the 13-times champion admitted he had been a worried man.

"I couldn't seem to break his throw," Taylor said. "I thought when it starts getting close to the finish the occasion would start getting to him, and it did a little bit." It was Taylor's second consecutive struggle and he knows he has yet to hit his best form.

"Something's wrong somewhere," he said. "It was a strange game. I always give 150 per cent, I was trying everything," he said. "But once again I've got a few days off, I'm going to go home. I've been giving people heart attacks, but that's what happens sometimes. It's not easy if you're not 100 per cent right. You practise all year round and all of a sudden you get on that stage and don't feel right."

Elsewhere, Peter Manley produced a 4-1 win over his fellow Cumbrian Alan Warriner-Little in the second round.

"Alan and myself are good friends and it was a hard game to play," Manley said. "I was probably the more relaxed player and it showed in the end. He outscored me but I hit my doubles when it mattered."

Manley, a beaten finalist against Taylor on three occasions, will meet Jan van der Rassel in the last 16 following the Dutchman's 4-1 win over Denis Ovens.

Roland Scholten beat Mervyn King of Ipswich 4-2 in their second-round tie, while Alan Tabern of St Helens enjoyed a straight-sets win over Hampshire's Andy Jenkins.

In Saturday night's final match, the world No 9 Wayne Mardle saw off the qualifier Jamie Caven 4-1. Leicester's Caven, who is blind in one eye, took the first set but was soon trailing "Hawaii 501", who took the next three. And it was game over for Caven when Mardle landed a double top to seal the win.