BOWLS: Grantham’s Orrey rolls on to Worlds quarter-finals

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Grantham bowler Matthew Orrey insists he will have “nothing to lose” when he lines up against David Gourlay in the fourth quarter-final of the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Singles this evening (Friday) at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.

One of just two qualifiers to have made it through to the last eight of the blue riband event, Matthew has surpassed all expectations by first knocking out pre-tournament favourite and four-time world champion Paul Foster, and then seeing off former top-16 star Simon Skelton, to book a meeting with 1996 hero Gourlay.

Matthew came through a tense second-round clash with former Scunthorpe ace Skelton on Tuesday night, clinching a winner-takes-all measure on the very last end after the match went to a tie-break, and after being fancied to beat the 43-year-old, the IT specialist says he will be relishing his underdog status again, with the Spanish-based Scot favourite to progress to the semi-final.

“Gourlay is ranked number six in the world and has won it before, and people will be expecting him to win, so it is a case of role reversal again for me, like in the Foster game,” explained Matthew.

“I am really pleased with my form and I feel better going into this clash than the previous game as I have nothing to lose. The pressure won’t be on me to win and I will approach it in the same way as my first match and hopefully I will play as well as I did in that.”

Due to Skelton being hampered by a broken bone in his foot and needing the assistance of a wheelchair, Matthew was odds-on with the bookies to beat him, a scenario he said he wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

“The bookies obviously got wind of Simon’s problems and made me the favourite, whereas under normal circumstances I would still have been the underdog, so that put me under a bit more pressure than the Foster match,” said Matthew.

“I got the impression that people were expecting me to win because of Simon being in the wheelchair, but I felt I had more pressure on my shoulders.”

Matthew threw away decent leads in both sets of that second-round encounter, but luckily for him he did enough to take the match into a tie-break, although he admits that has given him plenty of food for thought.

“It was a case of a foot off the gas, if anything, and slightly my own fault,” he admitted. “One or two of the ends, where I was sending the jack back towards the commentary box, I wasn’t getting it at the length I wanted and maybe I need a bit more concentration and determination to get the length I am after. It is something I will work on that’s for sure.

“I started out well, but then put in two or three bad ends and he bowled well, although losing two threes and two twos was not ideal at all in the first set. Then the second set, I started really well again and just sort of lost my way a little, but was pleased to keep him down to singles and get into the tie-break.”

The game went to a best-of-three ends shoot-out. Matthew tied the match after taking the second set 7-6, having lost the first 10-7. And after both players won an end, it all came down to the very last end, where Skelton’s attempt to bowl in for shot failed by the narrowest of margins, with our local lad winning the match on a measure.

Matthew went on: “It was a nerve-wracking measure. When his bowl was coming down and rested up against mine, I initially thought I had lost it and he’s played a good bowl to win it.

“I hadn’t been too far away with my last and gave myself a fighting chance with it. It did look very close, but when I did have a closer look at it, I did slightly favour mine and so did the marker, and thankfully it was mine after they got the callipers out.”

Matthew will be putting in plenty of hard work prior to tonight’s match with Gourlay (live on YouTube, 7.30pm), adding: “I have a couple of practice sessions scheduled and will try and get one in as close to the time as when I’m playing – throughout the day, the pace of the carpet tends to vary now and then, so it will be beneficial to practise near that time to get a feel of the carpet how it is playing then.”

He has had a big fan club following him throughout the tournament, although he may have to go it alone from now on in.

“Family and friends have asked if they can get tickets for Friday and Saturday, but the arena is sold out, so most of my fan club that came for the first game won’t be able to come,” he lamented.

“I couldn’t have asked for more support, though, what with the club putting on a bus for 50-odd and there were one or two lads who were really cheering and shouting. They seem to be quite famous on YouTube now and people have been asking me who those two guys were.”