So Fallon has finally fallen, the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championships losing in the third round having thrilled a raucously partisan crowd and terrified Chris Dobey during a dramatically poised opening four sets before eventually losing 4-2.
Even for the notoriously noisy Alexandra Palace audience there were unusual scenes as Fallon Sherrock came out and took control of the opening exchanges.
Dobey, a widely liked 29-year-old from just outside Newcastle described as “just the nicest guy” by Glen Durrant, who he will now play in round four, was booed on entry and whenever he produced a decent dart, while Sherrock’s high points had audience members literally hugging in the aisles.
What followed was a game of the proverbial two halves. Though Sherrock settled instantly, landing three 180s in the first two legs, Dobey scored much better than his opponent throughout. But initially at least he repeatedly fluffed his checkouts while Sherrock’s landed dead centre. After two sets Dobey was averaging 96.72 with every three darts and Sherrock 88.15, but he had landed only four of 19 checkout attempts and Sherrock five out of eight. The nadir was reached in the very next leg when Dobey, in a position of complete control, missed three attempts at a double eight before Sherrock stepped up and nailed a 142 checkout.
The cumulative pressure imposed by Sherrock’s excellence in these key moments told in the sweat on Dobey’s lip and the speed with which he rushed and rued his checkout attempts. By contrast Sherrock was the epitome of steadiness and calm.
Dobey levelled the match at 2-2, totally controlling the fourth set. But even then, with each player having won eight legs, he had needed 31 double attempts to Sherrock’s 15.
Sherrock was reliant throughout on Dobey’s dreadful doubles, and when her opponent conjured from somewhere a dramatic improvement there was nowhere for her to go but down.
This Dobey did, landing six of his last nine attempts to accelerate through the last two sets. “My doubles were nowhere in the first set or two but I’m never a beaten man. I know I can come from behind,” Dobey said. “I just felt I had something more left in the tank and I brought it out towards the end of the match.”