ST HELENS darter Michael Smith had to dig deep to reach the last 16 of the Cazoo World Darts Championship.

The number 4 seed trailed 3-1 in sets to Germany's big scoring Martin Schindler and looked to be joining the high-profile players out of the prestigious tournament.

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But Smith found something to win the next three sets in a row to progress to the next round on Friday, where he will meet Joe Cullen.

Schindler drew first blood with a ton-plus average, but a sensational 170 checkout from Smith – the second of the tournament – helped the St Helens star restore parity at one set apiece.

The German was undeterred, regaining the initiative with an 11-darter to clinch set three, and he followed that up with an 84 finish and a 128 on the bull to move a set away from a landmark victory.

However, Smith – a winner at last month’s Grand Slam of Darts – underlined his credentials with a superb fightback, following up a 72 skin-saver in set five with a 114 checkout which turned the tide in the sixth.

Schindler continued to battle valiantly, but Smith’s experience paid dividends in the closing stages, as a clutch 83 combination and a 13-dart hold on tops catapulted the fourth seed through.

“I can’t really put it into words. I’m proud of myself for the way I came back,” said Smith, who averaged 95 and converted two ton-plus finishes to keep his hopes of lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy alive.

“I’ve not been at my best. I know I’ve got so much more to give. I know I’m playing well, I know my game is there, it’s just not come out yet.

“You have got to show your character and I have had to do that twice now. You need to get over these scares to hopefully win the event.

"I thought I had killed him with the 170, winning the second set 3-0 and I thought that was game over but he kept coming back fighting every time."

And it was a backs to the wall effort that pulled Smith through, with a real test of nerve in the do-or-die last three sets.

Smith said: "I kept telling myself I am one of the favourites, if you want to be a world champion them play like one.

"I was not quite there tonight, but showed true grit and what character I have got.

"My scoring was dreadful today so I am going to hit the board tomorrow and find out where my 180s have gone.

"It should be a good game against Joe Cullen."

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St Helens pair Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting face each other tomorrow at Alexandra Palace.