BOLTON darts star Lisa Ashton bowed out of the World Darts Championship at the opening stage after coming agonisingly close to a landmark success.

The four-time BDO Women’s Champion lost 3-2 to Adam Hunt after an entertaining encounter on Wednesday night.

A bullseye finish to win the deciding leg in the first set saw Ashton threaten to follow in the footsteps of Fallon Sherrock, who made history as the first female player to win on the Alexandra Palace stage last year.

Hunt refused to buckle and won the following two sets before the Lancashire Rose forced a decider thanks to a sublime 11-dart leg to win the last leg in set four.

Ashton then missed a opportunity to move to the brink of glory when she bust 130 when going for double five to take a 2-1 lead in the final set.

It proved to be her last chance as Hunt capitalised, snatching that leg before completing the win with a cool 120 checkout.

Ashton, who had beaten Hunt twice in Players Championship matches in 2020, said on social media: “Things just didn’t quite go my way tonight. Happy with how I played in patches but well done to Adam, a worthy winner on the night.

“He has got a great future ahead of him and best of luck to him in the rest of the tournament.

“Thanks to everybody who has supported me over the year, I’ll be back in 2021! Have a great Christmas everybody.”

Hunt, who will now play Jamie Hughes in round two on Friday afternoon, said: “"I'm so happy to have won that.

"I feel like I played well but I had to because Lisa played brilliantly and pressured me all the way. That has given me a lot of confidence to take forward."

Ashton, who lost at the same stage on her only other Ally Pally appearance in 2019, this year became the first woman to win a place on the PDC Pro Tour.