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JOE CULLEN exited the BetVictor World Matchplay after being edged out by Gary Anderson on Thursday in one of the best matches ever to take place on the Winter Gardens stage.

The Bradford ace missed two darts to triumph before Anderson wrapped up victory in a tie-break – with the Scotsman hitting an nine-darter earlier in the match.

There was never more than a leg between Cullen and the two-time World Champion during their magnificent contest, in which Cullen landed a fabulous 170 checkout to give him a 10-9 lead.

He went on to lead 15-14 but then missed that brace of darts to win in a dramatic moment, which saw a fly cross his eye-line when taking aim at double nine for the match.

Anderson forced a tie-break and eventually went on to win a classic encounter 19-17.

Cullen said: “I’m gutted. I think the better player lost but Gary’s in the next round and I’m not. Gary’s a class player and good luck to him in the next round.

“I was confident of hitting the double 18 and went inside, but a fly flew across right as I was throwing for double nine. I’m not saying I would have hit it, it’s irrelevant now.

“I’ll reflect on this and I’m sure I’ll find some positives.”