Returning to Barnsley and sandwiched between two early exits, Stephen Bunting managed a board final as well as a last 16 spot.

The Players Championship events are long slogs so with a four day marathon, suffering from the flu isn’t the ideal preparation.

Nonetheless, Stephen can walk away from South Yorkshire with an element of satisfaction and a few bob under his belt.

Day one saw the evergreen Steve Beaton grab the last leg decider as the two former Lakeside Champs clashed in round one.

Onto the Thursday and Stephen began proceedings with a comprehensive 6-1 victory over Dutchman, Jeffrey de Zwaan and a ton plus average to boot.

That was followed up with a 6-4 win over Radek Szaganski before UK Open champion, Andrew Gilding ended the Bullets run in the board final.

Two down, two to go. And Friday proved to be Steve’s best outing of the week.

A quite magnificent brace of averages north of 100 were enough to see off Stephen Burton and James Hurrell.

The Liverpudlian then defeated Martin Lukeman to set up a tasty last 16 tie with Gian van Veen.

However, it wasn’t to be for Steve. Despite a strong fightback from trailing 5-2 to level things up, it was the Dutch youngster who pinched the important deciding leg.

Feeling pretty poorly now, Steve entered the Metrodome hoping to end on a high.

And if flu is the answer. a quite magnificent 111 average in defeating Mensur Suljovic 6-4 is certainly the way forward.

But the joy was short lived as Jeffrey Sparidaans claimed  the deciding leg of a high quality contest to prevail.

As always, we grabbed hold of Steve for a few words.

“Given that I felt very poorly all week, I still managed to play at a decent standard.

“I don’t want to stand here and make excuses but obviously it’s much better to play your best darts when feeling healthy.

“Despite everything, I felt I played well. Of course I wanted to go further over the four days but my time will come.

“I still believe that elusive TV title is just around the corner and if it isn’t this year then I’ll achieve it in the next.

“At least Liverpool won the Merseyside Derby! Some consolation I guess!’

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