Lisa Ashton 2 Deta Hedman 1

In a quirk of the draw for this year’s BDO Women’s World Championship at the Lakeside, last year’s finalists were paired together in the very first round. Deta Hedman was seeded number one in the world this year (for the fourth year running), but it was her opponent Lisa Ashton who took the title last year in a classic final. The ‘Lancashire Rose’ went into this year’s event unseeded, based on results during the year, but turned in a wonderful performance to repeat last year’s victory and recorded a more than respectable 80+ three-dart average in the process. For the two-time runner-up Hedman, it was a disappointing early exit for her as she was unable to avenge last year’s defeat.

Ashton started by far the better this time around, taking the first set at a canter in the best of three match, as Hedman strayed far too regularly into the beds either side of the twenty that she was aiming for. Ashton by contrast seemed in control and hitting both the high scores and the necessary doubles to win the legs.

Into the second set and Hedman opened better, taking the first leg as Ashton began to miss her opportunities and wasted the advantage of her own throw, but her adversary roared back to take the second leg also against the darts of Hedman to draw level. The third leg saw both ladies matching each other’s scoring as the tension mounted. Hedman strained for the accuracy, knowing that losing the leg would put her one leg away from an early dismissal from the competition but as the doubles were missed she took the leg. Leg four saw Ashton open with 140 to pile the pressure back on to the number one seed and she seemed the more secure in her throwing with consecutive 100 scores. Hedman responded in kind, though, with a magnificent 152 checkout to take the leg and the second set, keeping the tie alive! #Celebrities

The decisive third set started with Hedman on throw and hence starting favourite to clinch the match, as the crowd delighted in a great start to this year’s competition. Leg one saw a further break of the darts as Ashton finished on the bullseye. She bettered that with an amazing 156 finish to put herself just one leg away from the next round and in doing so recorded the biggest finish ever in women’s World Championship history. Hedman was fighting for her very survival as Ashton scored a solid ton to leave another finish but missed double top at the first attempt. Hedman couldn’t capitalise and Ashton needed just one more dart on her return to the board to hit double top and take the match with a 3-0 set, in what was a great advert for the women’s game.