Jonny Clayton

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 20: Jonny Clayton of Wales during the 2023 Cazoo Premier League Darts Night 12 match between Chris Dobey of England and Jonny Clayton of Wales on April 20, 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands (Photo by Marcel ter Bals/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Jonny Clayton Bids To Join Gerwyn Price In Premier League Darts Play-Offs

By Gareth James

The race for qualification for the Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs concludes in Aberdeen on Thursday as Jonny Clayton and Nathan Aspinall collide in a crunch quarter-final tussle on Night 16.

The final night of league phase action in 2023 will take place at P&J Live in front of a bumper Scottish crowd, as Clayton bids to join fellow Welshman Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen in next Thursday’s Play-Offs at The O2.

Clayton boasts a two-point lead over Aspinall ahead of their showdown on Scottish soil, and victory for The Ferret in their quarter-finals will see him seal a Play-Off berth for the third consecutive season.

With Aspinall having lost to Price in the Sheffield quarter-finals last Thursday as Clayton reached a nightly semi-final, the former UK Open champion now has to reach the Aberdeen final to overhaul his rival and claim fourth place.

“Obviously Gezzy [Price] did me a favour by beating Nathan last week,” said Clayton, who beat Dimitri Van den Bergh in last week’s quarter-finals to move two points clear of the Stockport star.

“I needed to do my job and I did against Dimitri, which puts the pressure back on Nathan. I’m feeling confident and hopefully, it goes my way on Thursday.

“It would be fantastic to make The O2 but I’m trying not to think about it.

“I will just try to go out, relax and play my game, although it’s easier said than done!

“We’re all out to win, so I’m just going to concentrate on my game, and I am sure Nathan will be doing the same.”

Aspinall must beat Clayton and then progress to the Night 16 final to confirm a place in the top four, although the 2020 runner-up heads to Aberdeen in a bullish mood.

The 31-year-old averaged 104 in defeat to Price last Thursday, and he also impressed at the weekend’s Czech Darts Open, averaging 103 and 105 before succumbing to Dave Chisnall in the last eight.

“I’m happy where my game’s at, and I’m not going to give it to Jonny,” insisted Aspinall, who finished third in his previous two Premier League campaigns.

“I’ve found something and I played really well at the weekend, probably one of the best tournaments I’ve played this year and I’m confident.

“I’m going to leave everything on that stage on Thursday night, and if I play as I can and like I played at the weekend, I’ll take some stopping.

“There’s a little bit more pressure this time, but I handle these situations quite well and hopefully I handle it very well on Thursday.”
The winner of Clayton and Aspinall’s decisive clash will progress to a semi-final showdown against Price or Scottish number one Peter Wright, who lock horns in the evening’s opener.

Price is bidding to become the fifth player in the Premier League to finish top of the league phase, and the 2021 World Champion would confirm the top spot by reaching the Night 16 showpiece.

Wright, however, will be aiming to round off a difficult campaign with a strong showing on home soil, after returning to winning ways with Czech Darts Open glory in Prague.

“Gerwyn Price is a fantastic darts player, and he has taken darts by storm,” admitted Wright, who trails seventh-placed Van den Bergh by two points.

“I’m an old guy just enjoying darts, and as long as I keep enjoying it, that’s the main thing.

“I’ve not really started this year, but hopefully I can finish strongly in Aberdeen. “My averages will go up and they need to go up because the standard of players around at the moment is unbelievable and it’s great for darts.”

2023 Cazoo Premier League Night 16 – Thursday May 18

Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright

Jonny Clayton v Nathan Aspinall

Michael Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh

Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey

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