Melton ace Les Gillett through in World Indoor Bowls Championships

Les Gillett (left) celebrates his second world pairs title with Jason Greenslade last year EMN-180116-114459002
Les Gillett (left) celebrates his second world pairs title with Jason Greenslade last year EMN-180116-114459002
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Melton Indoor Bowls Club member Les Gillett came through a stern examination in the opening test of his world title tilt on Thursday.

Gillett edged past old foe Simon Skelton in the first round of the Just World Indoor Singles, eventually emerging an 11-3, 8-7 winner.

Melton ace Gillett has been touted as a possible winner of the title in some circles and needed to dig deep into his arsenal to repel the advances of Skelton, who threatened to send the 11th seed tumbling out of the tournament.

Once upon a time this encounter would have been a regular fixture on the World Bowls Tour calendar, but Skelton dropped out of the top 16 a few years ago and now has to rely on his abilities in the tough qualifying events.

And it was he who carved out an early lead in the first set.

But a double on end four triggered an impressive run for Gillett, who went on to claim the next four ends and seal a one-set advantage.

Early in the second set, the writing looked to be on the wall for Skelton as Gillett pocketed a big three and moved 4-1 ahead two ends later.

But the Nottingham bowler rolled back the years and produced an intense period of sublime bowls to turn a three-shot deficit into a three-shot lead with just two ends to play.

Gillett was having to resort to weight to keep his opponent from running away with the second set and the wily old campaigner kept within touching distance of Skelton, which proved vital in the end.

A three on end eight levelled the scores and with Skelton needing to win the final end to send the match into a tie-break, Gillett used all his nous to claim the shot needed, punching the air in celebration and no doubt puffing his cheeks with relief at the same time.

Gillett faces either sixth seed Robert Paxton or qualifier Daniel Salmon in round two next Thursday.