LUKE ‘The Nuke’ Littler’s quality shone through as he defeated Martin Schindler to reach the last 16 of the UK Open in Minehead.

The Warrington 17-year-old, who is the tournament favourite, was pushed all the way by the German before running out the 10-8 victor to go into the draw for tonight’s session at the Butlin’s Resort.

Littler said: “The way the game was going it was just leg by leg and I was just thinking if I could break him and then hold I would by two legs clear, and as soon as I got that I was settled even more.

“He played really well, hopefully I played well as well. It felt like that and it was just a very tough game to get over the line.”

Littler averaged 102, had checkouts of 152, 120, 102 and 88 on bull, while piling up seven visits of 171 or above.

The former Padgate Academy student said winning the 10th leg to draw level at 5-5, after trailing 5-3, was the crucial one to win.

He had four missed doubles and Schindler blew his chance with two arrows going awry before Littler got the job done to go into the break.

It was with his 120 checkout that he defeated the German against the throw on their return to the oche and then his 88 bull finish gave him the all-important 7-5 lead.

Each player held their throw after that until Littler won the match in style with a 102 checkout.

It was put to Littler that he looks to be enjoying his time on stage.

Littler said: “It’s what every darts player has got to do because if you’re not enjoying it surely you can’t play well.

“I always enjoy it and I love leading up to any competition.”

He stays in the hunt for the £110,000 winner’s prize and will be back on stage in this evening’s session, which starts at 7pm.

The open draw has pitted him against St Helens thrower Dave Chisnall and their game is scheduled second on the main stage, which will mean a start time at some point after 7.45pm.

With Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price exiting on Friday night, the draw opened up even further for Littler when Michael Smith crashed out in the fifth round.

The former world champion was beaten 10-9 by Luke Woodhouse.

There are still some big names joining Littler in Saturday night’s last 16 with world number one Luke Humphries, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross among those progressing.

If Littler is successful tonight, he will return for the quarter-finals tomorrow afternoon.

The semi-finals and final are on Sunday night.

2024 Ladbrokes UK Open Fifth Round results, Saturday, March 2:

Main Stage
Gary Anderson 10-5 Chris Dobey
Luke Littler 10-8 Martin Schindler
Damon Heta 10-9 Nathan Aspinall
Luke Humphries 10-3 Benjamin Drue Reus

Stage Two
Jonny Clayton 10-8 Ross Smith
Rob Cross 10-4 Josh Rock
Stephen Bunting 10-9 Kevin Doets
Peter Wright 10-1 Andrew Gilding

Stage Three
Ricky Evans 10-5 Mike De Decker
Luke Woodhouse 10-9 Michael Smith
Dave Chisnall 10-6 Mensur Suljovic
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-6 Vincent van der Voort

Stage Four
Gian van Veen 10-7 Graham Usher
Martin Lukeman 10-9 Danny Noppert
Keane Barry 10-3 Ryan Meikle
Mervyn King 10-9 Krzysztof Ratajski

2024 Ladbrokes UK Open Sixth Round schedule and stages, from 7pm on ITV3 OR ITV4:

Main Stage
Jonny Clayton v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Luke Littler v Dave Chisnall
Mervyn King v Luke Humphries
Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting

Stage Two
Ricky Evans v Luke Woodhouse
Martin Lukeman v Gary Anderson
Damon Heta v Gian van Veen
Rob Cross v Keane Barry