Stephen Maguire booked his place in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Snooker Championship after an incredibly dramatic 13-12 victory over James Cahill on Saturday in Sheffield.
The Scot, leading 9-7 overnight, held on as the amateur who sensationally ousted Ronnie O’Sullivan in the opening round fell just short.
After a gripping contest that will undoubtedly go down as one of the Crucible classics, Maguire advances to a last eight meeting with either Judd Trump or Ding Junhui.
The 38 year-old, two times a semi-finalist, relied on every drop of his experience to get over the winning line in an encounter that boasted just about everything.
The final session in particular was a nerve-jangling affair that had more surprising plot twists than an episode of Eastenders.
With the lead interchanging on several occasions, it seemed inevitable that the contest was going to conclude as a final frame thriller.
Swinging the momentum one way and then the other was the degree of luck that each player possessed at various junctures of the battle.
Cahill appeared to steal a march when he fluked a red to lead 11-10 but then suffered a series of misfortunes as Maguire staged his own fight back.
An incredible 23rd frame when the scores were level, surely the frame of the championship so far, had umpteen twists and turns.
Cahill looked certain to regain the advantage but inadvertently brushed a ball with his waistcoat and later watched in agony as the white went in-off when gifted another opportunity.
Maguire eventually went 12-11 in front only to crumble in the next frame, missing routine pots while under the cosh to allow his 23 year-old opponent in for a reprieve.
When Cahill, who came through three matches of qualifying at the English Institute of Sport to become the first amateur to reach the venue stages, made it 12-12 he looked like the favourite.
Yet, Maguire steeled himself and the gritty Glaswegian produced an almost nerveless final frame to squeeze into the next stage.
There’ll be some thinking that Maguire’s name, after emerging from a pair of nail-biting deciders in this event already, could possibly be etched on the trophy.
However, there’s a long way to go before the former world number two can start thinking about that possible outcome.
Although the bottom half of the draw has opened up after the shock demise of three-time champion Mark Selby, the 2004 UK champion will still have to face either Judd Trump or Ding Junhui in the next round.
Still, after losing in the first round in six out his last eight appearances in Sheffield, Maguire will be pleased to at least be putting himself into contention for glory again.
For Cahill, it’s a devastating end to what was a breakthrough tournament for the Englishman, who will regain his professional card in time for the start of the next campaign.
He clearly has the pedigree, and the persona, to compete at the highest level so it will be interesting to see how he gets on next term.
Selby, meanwhile, bowed out after a 13-10 defeat to qualifier Gary Wilson in the last 16.
Elsewhere, the battle of the former world champions between John Higgins and Stuart Bingham finished 4-4 after their first session.
Defending champion Mark Williams trails David Gilbert 9-7 heading into their final bout of play on Saturday evening.
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