Smith marches on at Ally Pally

Michael Smith during his walk on before his match against Benito van de Pas
Michael Smith during his walk on before his match against Benito van de Pas

Michael Smith stands alone as St Helens' representative in this year's William Hill World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace, London, following the demise of Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting.

Smith now faces five-times world champion Raymond van Barneveld for a place in the semi-finals after the Dutchman ousted fellow countryman and title favourite Michael van Gerwen in what was described as one of the greatest-ever matches in the history of the competition.

Michael Smith celebrates beating Jeffrey De Zwaan during day five of the William Hill PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace, London

Michael Smith celebrates beating Jeffrey De Zwaan during day five of the William Hill PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace, London

But just as Barney is able to scale dizzy heights as he demonstrated in his victory over van Gerwen he is equally capable of producing way below-par performances and Smith will be hoping the latter will apply when they lock horns on New Year's Day.

Had he been asked prior to the all-Dutch clash who he would like to take on in the next round after his 4-0 demolition of Benito van de Pas, he would undoubtedly have preferred to avoid van Gerwen.

Now he has a chance to emulate the town's rugby league club and motor cyclist Geoff Duke by becoming a sporting world champion.

Chisnall's hopes of joining Smith in the last eight ended last night (Wednesday) when he lost a thriller against Peter Wright.

Chizzy won the opening set which included a 121 check out with an average of 112 and 100 per cent accuracy on the doubles.

Wright was not far behind, though, as the pair tussled with ton-plus check outs and maximums throughout the match.

As the pendulum swung back and forth the two throwers found themselves all square at three sets apiece and two legs each when the St Helens ace saved the game with a stunning under-pressure 130 check out against the darts.

Needing to win by two clear legs Wright got the break and scraped home.