Two-time finalist Mark Allen advanced with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Joe O’Connor at the UK Championship in York last night and said he is now targeting more silverware this season.
Allen, who has not ruled out having to withdraw from the tournament, came through a see-saw encounter against O’Connor, who is 43 places lower in the world rankings.
The Englishman made six half centuries during the match, including five in the first six frames, but was left to rue several errant pots.
It was a topsy-turvy match early on with the scores at 3-3 before Allen kicked on to claim three of the final four frames and progress.
After recently stating that he did not know if he would have to quit the sport, Allen sounded more upbeat after the match, indicating that he is now eyeing more trophies to add to his Northern Ireland Open win.
“It wasn’t pretty at times, not because we were missing balls, but because of the way the balls went in a few frames. Every match is different and you have to be ready for that,” he said.
"I am proud of the way I battled for everything. I won three frames I had no right to win. On another night Joe would have won 6-2 and that would have been a fair reflection because he was the better player throughout.
“It’s always nice to win a title early in the season because that’s a box ticked and you relax but when you get into matches in other events the pressure comes back.
"I want to win multiple tournaments this season. Maybe winning my home event under that sort of pressure could be what turns it around for me.
"I like the city of York, it reminds me a lot of what Sheffield is like at that time of year in that everyone knows the snooker is on.”
Allen will now take on world number 22 David Gilbert in round three.
“David is a class act, he was the seed in his section and at the start of the week I fully expected to play him if I got that far,” said Allen. “He’s a brilliant player to watch and has had some deep runs in the big events, but hopefully I won’t be watching too much of him.”
Meanwhile, Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins both reached the third round with routine wins.
Seven-time champion O’Sullivan made breaks of 91, 74, 66 and 55 as he reeled off five frames on the trot to seal a 6-2 win over Robbie Williams.
Higgins made breaks of 87, 131 and 86 on the way to a comfortable 6-3 victory over Sunny Akani.
World number five Kyren Wilson swept aside Jak Jones, claiming a 6-0 whitewash over the Welshman.
Wilson, who reached the final of the World Championship in 2020, got under way with a break of 113 and also made a 77 on his way to victory. He will next play Wu Yize after the Chinese player secured a 6-4 win over Hammad Miah.