BASINGSTOKE darts ace Paul Hogan marked his return to the big stage at Lakeside with a win, beating Karel Sedlacek 3-1 in a preliminary round match at the BDO World Professional Darts Championships.
The 50-year-old from Buckskin was on top form in the early stages of yesterday’s match at Frimley Green, winning the opening two sets.
However, he then allowed Sedlacek back into the match. The Czech thrower took the third set and had chances to win the next, but Hogan held his nerve to secure a place in the first round proper.
The match was Hogan’s first at Lakeside since 2006 – but he showed few signs of nerves in the opening two sets.
A solid 18-dart leg saw him break Sedlacek’s throw in the opener, while he hit double top with his 16th dart to win the second leg.
The first set was over in double-quick time as Hogan completed the job in leg three, scoring his first 180 of the afternoon before another dart at double top put him a set ahead.
Hogan’s finishing had been almost exemplary in the first set but he missed three darts at doubles in the first leg of the second before hitting double eight.
The two-time quarter-finalist also had three chances to win the second leg, but he was unable to take any of them and Sedlacek hit double eight to get on the board.
Hogan took the next in slightly scrappy fashion, firing into the wrong bed to go bust at one stage before taking out double 18, but there was nothing scrappy about the way he took the second set, checking out 84 to record a 15-dart leg.
Sedlacek took the opening leg of the third set in fine style, checking out from 141 for a 12-dart leg, but Hogan took the next two, his second maximum of the match helping to move him within one leg of victory.
However, he was unable to complete the job, a messy leg allowing Sedlacek to win the next, while a check out of 96 saw the Czech win the deciding leg of the set, with Hogan struggling to find the treble.
Hogan seemed to be back on form in the opening leg of the fourth set, hitting another 180 and going close to a 156 check out before hitting double 18 to get his nose in front.
Sedlacek took a scrappy second leg and put Crocodile Dundee on the back foot by checking out 80 to go ahead in the set, but another 180 helped Hogan break the Czech’s throw and level the set up at 2-2.
The deciding leg was a really nervy affair. Hogan seemed to be in control but he allowed Sedlacek back into the game by missing three darts at double top.
The Czech set up a shot at the bullseye and was millimetres away from levelling the match before Hogan finally hit double top, at the sixth attempt, to claim the win.
Hogan is in action on the Lakeside stage again this afternoon, taking on number 15 seed Scott Mitchell in the first round. Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for leg-by-leg coverage live from Frimley Green.