UK Championship: John Higgins up next as Mark Allen sees off Bingham threat
Mark Allen succeeded where Ronnie O’Sullivan failed as he sealed one of his best ever wins at the 12Bet.com UK Championship in Telford.
The Antrim ace defeated Stuart Bingham, who had accounted for the Rocket earlier in the tournament, by nine frames to seven in a nervy quarter-final encounter.
And it sets the 24-year-old up for a last four clash with two-time world champion John Higgins, who continued his remarkable return to the game with a 9-7 victory over fellow Scotsman, Stephen Maguire.
Higgins, who is playing his first televised tournament since his well documented ban from the game, showed his old class coming from 6-5 down to rattle off three frames on the trot to edge him towards the finishing line.
Maguire won the next but his first error in the 16th frame was his last as Higgins wrapped things up. Allen shared the first six frames of his match against Bingham — the Ulsterman making a 114 in the first frame and Basildon’s Bingham a 106 in the sixth. Allen then took the last two frames with 67 and 46 to give himself a handy lead.
Bingham immediately reduced the deficit to 5-4 when play resumed in the evening.
Allen restored his advantage but Bingham struck back, winning the next two frames to level at 6-6 including a break of 142 which equalled the highest in the tournament so far.
The pair shared the next two, with Allen once again nudging ahead only for Bingham to reply with an 80 break in a match which showed every sign of going down to the wire.
Allen moved within one more of victory after clinching a scrappy frame on the brown and blue, and was able to close it out in two visits after Bingham missed his last chance on an easy red.
Higgins kept his nerve to pull off a victory after Maguire had stormed back from a two-frame deficit at the start of the evening session to briefly hold the lead at 6-5. Trailing 5-3, Maguire started the evening with a break of 137. After levelling at 5-5 Maguire produced a break of 76 to move into the lead.
Higgins had looked nervous but a long red which led to a break of 82 enabled him to loosen up. Further consecutive breaks of 72 and 80 re-established Higgins' two-frame lead.
Maguire responded with a break of 106 and it looked like he would get a chance to level when Higgins missed a straightforward red as he looked to close out the match.
But Maguire made a mess of his safety shot, allowing Higgins in to finish the job and book his semi-final spot.