Mark Allen is through to the last 32 of the UK Championship after beating Joe O’Connor 6-4 in York on Saturday night.
The two-time former runner-up wasn’t able to play at his free-scoring best but relied on his experience to get past a tricky opponent in the second round.
“It wasn’t pretty at times,” Allen told the World Snooker Tour in his post-match interview at the Barbican Centre.
“It wasn’t pretty in the way that there wasn’t a lot of balls missed, but it was just the way the frames went sometimes – the balls dictated it and the black was getting tied up after nearly every break-off.”
“It just didn’t lend itself to free-flowing open snooker, but every match is different at the end of the day and you have to be ready for that.
“I’m proud of the way I battled. I didn’t have my best stuff, but I just battled for everything really and I won three frames that I had absolutely no right to win.
“That was the difference in the match, because on another day Joe wins that 6-2 and that would have been a fair reflection on play. I felt like he was the better player throughout.”
Allen is looking to make his mark on another ranking event having already reached two finals this season, losing to next opponent David Gilbert in the Championship League during the summer before capturing the Northern Ireland Open title on home soil last month in Belfast.
“It’s always nice to nick one early. You feel like that’s a box ticked early on in the season, and you can sort of relax a little bit.”
“Ultimately, when you get down to the nitty-gritty later on in other events, the pressure comes back then obviously and you want to win multiple tournaments.
“I don’t want to be someone who nicks one here and there; I want to be a regular winner and I haven’t quite done that yet, so maybe winning my home event under that sort of pressure could be what turns it around for me.”
Elsewhere on day four of the UK Championship, there were victories for Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins as the higher seeds continued to perform strongly.
O’Sullivan fought back from 2-1 down to beat Robbie Williams 6-2 while Higgins held off a late rally from Sunny Akani to prevail 6-3.
Kyren Wilson, Jack Lisowski, and Barry Hawkins also all safely made it through to the next stage, although Masters champion Yan Bingtao crashed out after a 6-3 reverse against Ben Woollaston.
Among the other underdogs still in with a shot are Matthew Selt, Mark King, Noppon Saengkham, and veteran Welshman Dominic Dale.
On Sunday, the second round concludes with the likes of Judd Trump, Mark Selby, and Ding Junhui rejoining the fray.
Live coverage of the UK Championship is on the BBC and Eurosport. Click here for other available options around the world.
Featured photo credit: WST