Fleming grinds out singles victory to reach last eight

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Ian FLEMING’S bid to retain the indoor bowls Singles Championship title at Portobello progressed into the quarter-final stage last night, with a hard earned 21-17 victory over emerging 17-year-old star Josh Spalding.

Spalding kept Fleming on the carpet for 24 entertaining ends and had the three-time champion on the back foot at 13-12, but the defending champion transformed the picture with a hat-trick of 2s that accelerated him into an 18-13 lead.

Fleming was kept under pressure as Spalding closed to 19-17, but answered the menace with successive singles to 21.

Gary Nisbet will provide the opposition to Fleming for a place in the semi-finals, with the former champion clinching a cracking encounter against BJ Smith 19-17 on the time bell.

Smith led 9-4, but came under pressure at 10-10, then slipped to 19-11 down before staging a late revival that was halted by the time limit after a 25-end battle.

A battle of the generations saw 15-year-old budding star Dean Mackintosh show strong nerve and bundles of talent to keep his chances alive from 11-11. At 18-18 he rose above the pressure to beat his senior rival Jimmy Marshall, 21-18, with a 2, 1 finish.

Stalwart figure Robert Wood will oppose Mackintosh in the last eight, having picked up from 10-6 down to beat Mike Wilson.

Junior cap Jamie Reid made his debut on the international stage earlier in the season and his impressive form continued to grow at the expense of last season’s finalist, 25-year-old Andrew Caldwell.

Caldwell was holding his own at 13-12 up but found himself trapped in the bowler’s graveyard as Reid stormed to 21.

Reid’s path into the semi-final stage now stands blocked by the hugely talented Chris Steven, with the former junior cap in rampant form after defeating Scott Roger 21-11 in 17 ends.

Teenager Liam McKay dispatched the experienced George Johnstone, dealing the former champion a 21-15 exit.

Stuart Betts is bidding for a fourth title success and he made a bold and impressive statement of intent with the 21-7 destruction of the formidable Willie McDonald.

Meanwhile, the play-off final of the men’s Premier League takes place at Paisley tomorrow, with West Lothian bidding for a fifth title success when they take on Falkirk.

Star-studded West Lothian will start favourites, however, the outcome is no forgone conclusion against a solid Falkirk opposition that had last season’s champions Midlothian and runners-up Lanarkshire behind them in their qualifying section.