WELLINGTON darts ace Ryan Searle saw a 3-1 lead slip away as he was knocked out the 2020 World Championship by Gary Anderson in an all-Somerset third round clash on Monday evening.

Searle, 32, reached the fourth round last year but knew he would have to be at his best if he was to overcome the two-time world champion and continue his participation past Christmas this time around.

He paid for missing three set darts in the opener, Anderson swooping to take it 3-2, but Searle levelled it up in the next despite a superb 170 checkout from The Flying Scotsman.

Searle, who hails from Holcombe Rogus and plays in the Wellington Darts League, took that momentum into the third set, winning the first leg by taking out 104.

That was one of two ton-plus finishes across the next two sets, in addition to eight 180s, as ‘Heavy Metal’ raced into a 3-1 lead to put Anderson on the brink.

The 49-year-old, based in Burnham-on-Sea, was in no mood to surrender against his opponent from down the M5 and was at his scintillating best in the fifth set.

Anderson averaged 110 across the set, which began and ended with neat 84 checkouts, and then levelled the match at 3-3 after another fine set which included an 11-dart leg.

The momentum was all with the fifth seed going into the decider and Searle had no answer to Anderson’s quality.

The Burnham man averaged 99.85 to take all three legs without reply, ending Searle’s adventure and setting up a clash against last year’s semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall in the last 16.

Anderson, who has suffered an injury-hit year, will take great confidence from his fighting spirit in avoiding what would have been his earliest World Championship departure since 2014.

If he continues the form from the latter stages of this match into the post-Christmas knockout matches, the wily Scot will take some beating.

Searle, meanwhile, will hope for a more consistent 2020 after struggling to build on his impressive run at Alexandra Palace last year.