BOWLS: Grantham’s Orrey keeps rolling on at World Indoor Championships

Matthew Orrey
Matthew Orrey
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He may have used up his ‘get out of jail card’, but that won’t matter a jot to Grantham’s Matthew Orrey as he booked a quarter-final berth in the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Singles following a dramatic tie-break win over Simon Skelton at Potter Resort last night.

Twenty-six-year-old Matthew had earlier dumped favourite Paul Foster out of the tournament in the first round to cause the biggest upset of the competition thus far, but he needed composure of epic proportions to prevail against Nottingham’s Skelton who, for the second match in a row, had to play through the pain barrier thanks to a broken bone in his right foot.

IT specialist Matthew threw away an early 4-0 lead to lose the first set 10-7 and almost capitulated in the second after holding a 7-0 advantage at the Norfolk venue.

Luckily for Matthew, though, he was only dropping singles, unlike the first set where Skelton scored two threes and two doubles in four ends to turn the match on its head, and keeping the count down every end ultimately kept him in the match and eventually triggered a best-of-three-end lottery after claiming the set 7-6.

After nearly blowing a huge lead, Matthew’s head must have been spinning, but he managed to re-compose himself and took the first end.

He held shot initially on the second but Skelton, playing out of his skin despite his obvious discomfort, delivered the goods to take the match into a winner-takes-all final end, with 1996 champion David Gourlay awaiting the winner.

Matthew got in first again and looked poised for glory, but former world number five Skelton played controlled weight and connected with the jack to leave him lying shot and piling the pressure back on the winner of the Lincoln qualifying event.

Needing to produce a big final bowl, Matthew drew to within a foot of the yellow pot to put him back in the driving seat and he could barely watch as Skelton, who had to be pushed around in a wheelchair in between ends, limped to the mat and prepared to deliver the crucial last bowl.

It trundled down the portable blue rink and looked to be heading for a match-winning lie, but it pulled up alongside Matthew’s effort and it was then left to match official Allan Thornhill to get his callipers out for a supremely tense measure and declare the red bowl as the shot by a hair’s breadth, which meant the Grantham ace had booked his place in Friday’s quarter-final line-up.