By Dylan Williams
Gerwyn Price’s play-off ambitions suffered a setback in what was a comfortable 8-4 win for James Wade in the Manchester leg of the Unibet Premier League.
But the match was overshadowed with Price leaving the stage visibly irritated and refusing to shake hands with his opponent after a defeat that leaves him with a must win clash next week to keep his hopes alive.
As if the match wasn’t crucial enough victories for Mensur Suljovic and Daryl Gurney earlier in the night, who are seen as Price’s nearest rivals for a play-off spot, only ramped up the pressure on The Iceman.
The Markham marksman looked as if he meant business from the word go, as he walked to the stage he acknowledged absolutely no one in the Manchester Arena apart from his partner.
During the first leg of the match Price made it very clear that he felt Wade was encroaching into the exclusion zone.
Gerwyn Price means business!
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) May 2, 2019
Price responded by slowing down the pace of the match to beyond pedestrian at times but this only seemed to disrupt his own rhythm.
In the blink of an eye Price, 34, found himself 3-0 down with finishes of 61, 73 and tops from Wade.
Price finally got going as he hit his 44th maximum of the campaign followed by a 177 to give him a chance of the perfect leg. Unfortunately it came to nothing but an impressive 11 darter put the Welshman on the board.
The pair shared the next four legs but Wade dealt a blow to Price’s resurgence with a 122 checkout on the bullseye to lead 6-3.
Price claimed the 10th leg on ‘mad house’ followed by his customary scream but Wade secured a crucial two points with checkouts of 81 and 60.
As Price stormed off the stage into the Manchester night we’re left to ponder what was behind one of the strangest performances seen by the Welshman in recent times.
Wade said: “Gerwyn is one of the top four players in the world at the moment so it’s a really good win”.
Price, the Grand Slam of Darts Champion, is now sixth in the table two points behind Wade and Suljovic and a point adrift of Gurney with two weeks of the league phase to go.
In order for Price to make finals night in the O2 on the 23 May, he must now depend on others slipping up in the remaining fixtures to be played at Sheffield and Leeds.
Next week in the ‘Steel City’ Price will face Gurney in what can only be labelled as a ‘must win’ for The Iceman.