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Maximum Delight for Milkins

Robert Milkins recorded a 147 break before easing to a 10-4 victory against China’s Xiao Guodong in the World Championship qualifiers.

The Englishman compiled his second career maximum in the third frame and, despite going 3-2 behind, won seven of the next eight frames to go one match away from the Crucible.

Funnily enough, there had only ever been one other perfect frame recorded in the qualifying event for the Worlds and that was Milkins’ maiden 147 against Mark Selby in 2006.

The 26 year-old may not receive the financial rewards that come with compiling the break of 15 reds and 15 blacks followed by all the colours during the venue stages of a tournament but he should be content in the fact that he has now entered the history books for a unique reason.

Your typical journeyman pro, Milkins has enjoyed success during this campaign when he embarked on an unlikely run to the semi-finals of the World Open and, when in form, is a match for anybody in the qualifying cubicles – especially as he has the ability to reel off successive frames in devastatingly quick fashion due to his speedy playing style.

Milkins will play Mark Davis for a place in the last 32 but the latter’s namesake Steve Davis will be one player that won’t be entertaining the crowds at this year’s championship.

The six-time champion, who famously reached the quarter-finals two years ago at the sprightly age of 52, was simply not at the races today and finally put out of his misery 10-7 by Ben Woollaston.

Woollaston himself wasn’t much better, perhaps feeling the pressure of being up against a true legend of the game, but always remained one step ahead of his fellow Englishman, aided by taking a series of tight frames that could have gone either way.

It’s becoming a sad realisation that the ‘Nugget’ may never play under the starry lights of the Crucible Theatre again but he has had many glorious years at the venue and Woollaston, 30 years his junior, will be hoping to create some memories of his own if he can see off Dominic Dale in the final qualifying stage.

In a pair of dramatic final frame thrillers, Andy Hicks threw away a 9-7 lead to Jamie Jones to lose out to the young Welshman while, in contrast, Gerard Greene withstood a spirited fight-back from Thailand’s James Wattana to edge another decider.

Greene had led 8-5 and 9-7 before the former semi-finalist fought back to square proceedings, and it looked like Wattana might steal it when he gained the early opportunity, but Greene got his chance and cleared to the blue for a determined victory.

For Jones, it erases the memory of the last stage in the last year’s qualifiers when he was on the receiving end of a similar scoreline against another Tour stalwart, Dave Harold.

In the day’s afternoon session, Belgian 17 year-old prodigy Luca Brecel raced into a 3-0 lead against Michael Holt before being pegged back to 4-4.

The youngster composed himself to take the last, though, and will lead going into tomorrow’s final session while Nigel Bond leads Cao Yupeng by an odd frame also.

Amateur Justin Astley’s incredible run looks to be coming to an end as he trails Liang Wenbo 7-2, as does the campaign of Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo who will have to launch an attack from 6-3 behind against Joe Jogia.

As it approaches midnight on writing this article, Anthony Hamilton and Anthony McGill are locked at 8-8 – an affair that looks set to continue into the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

On Thursday, Davy Morris continues his run while People’s Champion Jimmy White enters the fray.

The full draw and list of results can be viewed here

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