SOFT-hearted Scott Mitchell admitted he had found it tough to see off qualifier Mark McGrath at Lakeside – after the pair struck up an unlikely friendship.

Bransgore-based Mitchell cruised into the second round of the BDO World Championship courtesy of a 3-0 win over the New Zealander, who he had enlisted as his new beer and practice partner in the preceding hours.

The pair got on famously despite their impending tungsten clash and having blitzed to success on the famous stage, 'Scotty Dog' branded his opponent a "fabulous addition to the tournament".

Mitchell told the Daily Echo: "Sometimes you go into a room and players try to avoid each another when they are playing each other but it hasn't been that way with Mark and I.

"We've been chatting all day and buying each other a beer. I'm not one of the ruthless ones so that made it more difficult to then have to defeat him!

"You realise in the first nine darts that he's in awe of what you are doing and that makes them the hardest matches to get through because you know he's there for the taking.

"It's a case of 'I'm going to play at this level and you have to match me'.

"At the same time, Mark has been a fabulous addition to the tournament. He did really well to come from 2-0 down against Roger Janssen.

"I know he will be disappointed today but he hasn't let New Zealand down, that's for sure."

'Scotty Dog' hit an impressive 60 per cent of his doubles against ‘The Cowboy’, who struggled throughout and had only five darts at double.

Former Lakeside champion Mitchell now has a sizeable break before his second-round clash in midweek, which could be against number-15 seed Geert De Vos.

The Dorset county star was not pressured in the opening leg and made the most of two missed doubles from McGrath to increase his lead in the second, despite having to repair a broken flight.

England international Mitchell then wrapped up the set in rapid fashion by taking out 52.

He broke the McGrath throw at the start of the second set and added several ton-plus visits on his way to a fifth leg success in a row.

McGrath, playing in the £300,000 tournament for the first time, finally got off the mark with a 77 checkout but his underwhelming scoring allowed Mitchell to take the second set on double 18.

Matters continued in the same fashion after the interval with reigning Welsh Open champion Mitchell untroubled in mopping up 56.

McGrath stuttered to a bull finish and his second leg victory but Mitchell restored order with his first 180 to go within one.

A 52 checkout on tops completed the job for the ardent Poole Pirates and Cherries fan.