Nathan Aspinall continued his resurgence with victory on Night Five of the BetMGM Premier League in Exeter, courtesy of an emphatic 6-2 success against Rob Cross.
Aspinall – who was without a point following Night Three – catapulted himself into the top four after backing up a run to the Night Four final with a five-point haul at the Westpoint Exeter.
The World Matchplay champion overcame Peter Wright, Luke Humphries and Cross to claim the £10,000 winner’s bonus in the south-west, as he became the third different nightly winner inside five weeks.
Aspinall recovered from 3-1 down to topple Wright in a hard-fought quarter-final tussle, winning five of the last six legs to inflict a fifth consecutive defeat on the Scot.
The 32-year-old then defied a stirring fightback from Humphries to triumph in an enthralling semi-final, converting a 160 checkout in the decider, having earlier missed a dart at bull for a 6-1 victory.
This set up a showdown against Cross for the Night Five title, and Aspinall defeated the 2018 World Champion for the second week in succession to put himself firmly in Play-Off contention.
The Stockport star kicked off proceedings with back-to-back 15-darters, before capitalising on a host of missed doubles from Cross to stretch his lead to 4-0.
Aspinall then moved to the cusp of victory with another sensational 160 checkout, fending off back-to-back 180s from Cross to close in on a potential whitewash victory.
Cross reduced the deficit with consecutive 80 and 121 finishes, although he paid the price for squandering three darts at double in leg eight, as Aspinall pinned tops to seal the deal in 13 darts.
“I was a bit down after the first three weeks, but I’ve dug deep over the last two nights,”reflected Aspinall, a Premier League runner-up in 2020.
“It was a slow start to the season, but last week was massive for myself. That win against Michael Smith has kick-started my season.
“I have been fighting with demons in my own head, but I love this game, and I love the opportunity I’ve been given.
“Everyone knows I’m a fighter, and I’m over the moon with the win tonight.
“I’ve not performed at the level I know I’m capable of, but I’m still finding a way to win.
“At the end of the day, we’re all in this competition for a reason. I think the standard we’re producing week-in, week-out is fantastic, and long may it continue!”
Cross fell short in his bid for a first nightly victory of his Premier League career, although he climbed to second spot after leaving Exeter with three points to his name.
The 33-year-old stormed through to the last four with a 6-1 demolition of Gerwyn Price, averaging 109.69 and pinning six of his ten attempts at double to cap off an imperious display.
The 2019 runner-up then sealed his spot in a first nightly final courtesy of a 6-3 victory against Luke Littler, capitalising on a profligate display from the teenager to move into third spot.
Littler had averaged 106.97 to demolish Night One winner Michael Smith in the quarter-finals, crashing in five 180s and producing a delightful 140 combination to cement his place in the top four.
Meanwhile, in the evening’s opener, Humphries ended Michael van Gerwen’s nine-match winning run with a 6-3 success, reeling off three consecutive 15-darters to deny the Dutchman.