Belfast's Joe Swail is closing in on Crucible return
Joe Swail is just one win away from a return to the Crucible to play in this year's Betfred World Championships.
The Belfast cueman, who has reached the last four of snooker's blue riband event on two previous occasions, made it through a nail-biting second qualifying round clash with Dominic Dale at the Ponds Forge Centre in Sheffield yesterday.
Swail had to go to a final frame decider with the Welshman, winning the crucial 19th frame in impressive style to book his place against another man from the valleys, Matthew Stevens.
Like Swail, Stevens is a man with impressive pedigree at the iconic Yorkshire venue, having finished runner-up in 2000 and 2005, and he booked his place with a 10-7 win over Peter Lines.
The winner of that game, played today and tomorrow, will go into Thursday's main draw at the Crucible, where the top 16 players in the world will be paired with the 16 qualfiers.
Also vying for an emotional return to Sheffield was Jimmy White, but after a thrilling battle with Matthew Selt he crashed to a 10-8 loss.
White, who lost out in no fewer than six World Championship finals, cut a frustrated figure as Selt went on to face Tom Ford who overcame David Gilbert 10-8.
There was also no sentimental return to the stage he made his own in the Eighties for Steve Davis.
The Nugget, who lifted the famous trophy six times in his illustrious career, bowed out last night when well beaten by Kirk Maflin.
Dubliner Ken Doherty, champion in 1997 and who accounted for Ladies World Champion Reanne Evans earlier in qualifying is through and now plays Mark Davis.