Hamilton v Painter: Hammer time
Opportunity is knocking very loudly at the door of these two Premier League debutants as both Kevin Painter and Andy Hamilton know that a win on Thursday night in Newcastle will give them a chance of making the final four, and a chance of picking up the £150,000 winner’s cheque.
Things are not entirely in the hands of the Hammer or the Artist though, and even if one can manage the victory to take them on to 13 points, it may not quite be enough if other results don’t go their way, but it would certainly heap pressure on the likes of Barney, Wade and Lewis ahead of their crunch games.
If nothing else, finishing on 13 points for either man would be a huge confidence boost whether they make it into the last four or not. There have been some notable first year flops in this competition, Mark Webster last year managed just five points and Jelle Klaasen went just one better in 2009, so to make 13 would be some achievement, even if it does turn out to be unlucky for them.
Neither man looked as if they would still be in with a shout of the play-offs a few weeks ago, but both have put together impressive runs of form which have seen Painter avoid defeat for three weeks and Hamilton manage it for four. If the Hammer had just managed to turn one of his three consecutive draws into a win then he would be firmly in the driving seat for a place in the semis.
When the two met back in week five it was the Artist who prevailed 8-5, but the majority of bookies have Hamilton down as a marginal favourite. This might be a little unfair on Painter, who of course beat the world champ last week, but I tend to agree and see Hamilton as being able to handle the pressure of the situation a touch better. It will be close, but I fancy the Hammer to nail another victory.
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