With an annual visit to the Winter Gardens upon the horizon, Stephen Bunting will take plenty of positives from a healthy run to the European Darts Matchplay semi-finals.

It’s a much more prestigious Matchplay in Blackpool but reaching the final four on the continental version is incredibly respectable.

Due to the withdrawal of a few seeds, Bunting was bumped up and faced the talented young Pole, Sebastian Bialecki in his opening round two salvo.

And in an enthralling match which went all the way, it was the Liverpudlian who took that crucial last leg decider and progress.

Martin Lukeman was the next man to be on the receiving end of an agonising shoot-out as The Bullet repeated the feat to end the Watford mans journey.

Waiting for Bunting in the quarter-finals was one of the most inform players of the year, and newly crowned World Cup of Darts champion, Damon Heta.

One thing Stephen Bunting is, is consistent. You will rarely see the former Lakeside World Champion averaging in the 80’s and typically it’s mid 90’s and above.

On this occasion, the 37-year old hit posted a lower average than the Aussie but despite a mere 90.31, still managed to edge the contest 6-4 in a match where both players struggled on their doubles.

But disappointingly, the the semi-final against Luke Humphries was one way traffic as Cool Hand took the contest without concession en route to claiming his third European Tour title of the year.

After the match, Bunting said: “Very pleased to get to the final day – that is always my initial goal on these European Tour events.

“As long as I go into Sunday, then I know I’m in the mix and have a chance to go all the way.

“Happy with how I played until the semi-final! My averages are always up there – just need to work a little on my doubles but I’ll be fine.

“Just couldn’t get going against Luke [Humphries] and he ran out a deserving winner.

“I have a good few days now in Barnsley to get prepared for the World Matchplay. I’ll be hoping to qualify for two more Euro events as well as doing well in the Players Championships.

“Then ideally, take that confidence to Blackpool and try to pick up my maiden PDC TV major.”

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