Snooker News

Mark Allen Battles in York

Four encounters were settled in deciding frame finishes as the last 16 line-up was completed on Tuesday in the UK Championship.

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Allen has a level head-to-head record against Higgins. Photo credit: World Snooker

Mark Allen staged an amazing comeback to deny Ryan Day at the death in what will be a severely painful defeat for the Welshman.

Day looked to be in cruise control when he led 4-0 at the mid-session interval with breaks of 53, 59, 118 and 70 – boasting a 97% pot success rate.

But his charge derailed upon the resumption with a wonderful 136 by Allen getting him back into the game.

The Northern Irishman won five on the spin to go to within one of victory only for Day to force the final frame shoot-out.

Both cueists had chances in the last but Allen eventually got over the winning post to maintain his hopes of a maiden Triple Crown victory.

The 30 year-old, who compiled a 147 break earlier in the tournament, faces a stern test in the fourth round as he comes up against the man in form, John Higgins.

While there was ecstasy for Allen, south of the Irish border there was agony for Fergal O’Brien.

The Dubliner, who constructed a record five tons in his second round victory over Barry Hawkins, let slip a 5-3 advantage to allow Stephen Maguire pip him at the death.

In fact, it was the Scot who was knocking in the hundreds in this affair, runs of 116 and 101 helping the 2004 champion through to face young Luca Brecel of Belgium.

Maguire needs a strong outing in York in order to break back into the world’s top 16 in the rankings and seal an invitation to the prestigious Masters at the Alexandra Palace in January.

Someone holding on desperately to one of those coveted spots is Mark Williams, who also prevailed in a frantic finish against Ricky Walden.

Similar to Maguire, Williams needed to win the last three frames, in doing so ending 17th ranked Walden’s chances of a Masters berth.

Two-time UK champion Williams will be a heavy favourite to go on further, with Liam Highfield his next challenge at the Barbican Centre.

While the three others all managed to overturn sizable deficits, for Shaun Murphy it was a case of withstanding an almost successful fight back from Dominic Dale.

In an encounter riddled with errors, Dale wasted a massive opportunity to stun the 2008 champion having been 5-2 down.

Murphy finally scrambled over the line 6-5 to set up an intriguing tie with Zhou Yuelong, the emerging 18 year-old star from China.

Meanwhile, the big upset on day seven saw Chinese no.1 Ding Junhui fall to Jamie Jones 6-2.

The 2005 and 2009 champion was never at the races throughout, producing some terrible safety play to gift his opponent frame after frame.

It’s an excellent win for Jones, though, who will look to reach the last eight of a ranking event for only the fourth time in his career when he faces David Gilbert on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Oliver Lines maintained his stellar run with a 6-0 thrashing of fellow Englishman Jimmy Robertson.

Lines didn’t let the disappointment of defeat for his father Peter the previous day overcome him, romping to a whitewash win that underlines his pedigree.

The 21 year-old will surely fancy his chances of prolonging his stay in the tournament when he meets Marco Fu, a top 16 player but one who is continuously plagued by inconsistency.

Finally, 2003 champion Matthew Stevens produced his best snooker in a long time in ousting Joe Perry while Zhang Anda triumphed over Mitchell Mann.

It only gets tougher for the pair, though, with Stevens and Zhang next up against Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby respectively.

The arena reverts to a two-table set-up for the last 16, with the eight encounters played across two days on Wednesday and Thursday.

Click here to view the draw. 

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