Snooker News

Maguire Denies Whirlwind in Decider

Stephen Maguire edged Jimmy White in a 6-5 thriller to deny the 1992 champion a place in the UK Championship second round at the Barbican Centre.

Stephen Maguire

Maguire has struggled with consistency – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

In a high-scoring affair, White looked on course to record what would have been his biggest victory in years when he led the struggling Scotsman 3-1 at the interval.

The 53 year-old had already compiled breaks of 104 and 77 but Maguire responded after the break with two runs of 97 and a 64 to move 5-3 ahead.

White didn’t give up and a 52 break helped him on his way to forcing the decider, which Maguire duly snatched with a 72 to inflict a gut-wrenching defeat on the people’s champion.

For veteran White it probably would have represented one of his last hurrahs, of which there may or may not be a few more of in what remains of his one and a half year tour card.

But for Maguire it’s a distinctly important victory as he attempts to regain even a fraction of the form that saw him romp to the title 11 years ago.

The 34 year-old hasn’t performed well at all of late and will be seeking a confidence-boosting run in this tournament with the meat of the campaign still to come.

Meanwhile, it was another busy day in York as the first round came to a conclusion on Thursday.

The current and previous world champions, Stuart Bingham and Mark Selby, had no problems in their heavy defeats of Jordan Brown and Joe O’Connor respectively while Neil Robertson was made to work a little harder in his 6-3 triumph over Alex Taubman.

There was almost a major upset in the morning session when former Crucible semi-finalist Andy Hicks got to within a couple of balls of beating Barry Hawkins.

However, a cruel in-off late in the deciding frame allowed the ‘Hawk’ in for a reprieve, which he gratefully took to ensure he wouldn’t be on the receiving end of an early 6-5 loss for the second UK in a row.

 

Elsewhere, the in-form Mark Allen avoided a potential banana skin with recent IBSF World Championship runner-up Zhao Xintong by ousting the Chinese teenager 6-2.

Allen will be hoping to benefit from the exits of Ding Junhui and David Morris in his section of the draw.

Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien was made to work very hard in his opening bout but came from 5-2 down to deny Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong.

It looked to be a bad day at the office for the Dubliner but in typical Ferginator fashion he fought back valiantly, and in fact finished the game in style with breaks of 133, 50 and 66.

In other results, there were relatively comfortable victories for Shanghai Masters champion Kyren Wilson, International Championship runner-up David Gilbert and former world champion Graeme Dott, while Robert Milkins enjoyed a 6-0 drubbing of Australian Vinnie Calabrese.

By contrast, well past midnight Matthew Selt avoided what would have been a huge shock by narrowly pipping China’s Zhang Yong 6-5, a scoreline shared by Xiao Guodong in his close success over Noppon Saengkham.

Luca Brecel easily got the better of Iran’s Hossein Vafaei Ayouri 6-1 in what was an eagerly awaited contested, with Robin Hull, Dechawat Poomjaeng and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh among the others also advancing.

Friday is a rest day for the players so there will be no further action until Saturday, when the last 64 gets going amid the start of the TV coverage.

Click here for the full draw.

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