Smith survives scare in Belgium

Michael Smith is through to the 2nd Round at the European Championship. 

But the Unicorn man had to stave off a Nathan Aspinall fight back before winning 6-4. 

Elsewhere in Hasselt on Friday afternoon, Joe Cullen threw it away as he missed four match darts against Stephen Bunting and lost in a deciding leg. 

And there was also defeat for Dimitri van den Bergh as the young Belgian was beaten 6-1 by Jonny Clayton.

But Smith held his nerve to set up a 2nd Round clash with Benito van de Pas on Saturday night. The No.3 seed started superbly as he raced into a 4-0 lead against Aspinall, with three 180s and a 114 finish. 

However the Unicorn ace missed two darts for a 5-1 lead and that signalled the start of the comeback. Aspinall levelled at four apiece and had the darts in the 9th leg, but Smith managed to break on D10 and then won the match on the same double.

Joe Cullen will be kicking himself. 

He came from 1-3 down to lead 5-3 against Bunting. Then came the agony of four missed match darts at 'tops' D10 and D5 and Bunting then won three straight legs to win.

Van den Bergh just couldn't get into the match against an in-form Clayton. The Welshman averaging 103 to the Belgian's 88 and Clayton also hit four 180s on his way to victory and a second round clash with Peter Wright. 

Friday afternoon 1st Round results:

Jonny Clayton 6-1 Dimitri van den Bergh 

Dave Chisnall 6-1 Cristo Reyes

Benito van de Pas 6-5 Vincent van der Voort

Daryl Gurney 6-3 Steve Beaton 

Michael Smith 6-4 Nathan Aspinall

Rob Cross 6-0 Martin Schindler 

Joe Cullen 5-6 Stephen Bunting

Peter Wright 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski

By STUART PYKE at the European Championship

Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC