Mark Allen's glory bid bang on track
Mark Allen has a great chance of clinching the biggest title of his career after beating former world number one Judd Trump at the £700,000 UK Championship in York, a repeat of their clash in the 2011 final.
Allen faces Ricky Walden – who beat Ding Junhui 6-4 – in the quarter-finals tonight and admitted he felt "nervous and edgy" ahead of yesterday's showdown before winning 6-4.
Ronnie O'Sullivan is still favourite for the game's most important event outside of the World Championship after last night's 6-0 stroll against Robert Milkins.
Allen said: "I was nervous and edgy before I went out – I don't know why.
"I just never settled and it was a comedy of errors throughout.
"I don't know how I've won that game, to be honest," said the Ulsterman.
"I was really poor from start to finish, but one of my qualities is that I don't give up.
"I'm pretty proud of myself for coming back from 4-2, even though Judd let me off the hook."
Trump led 3-1 despite a 98 from Allen in frame three and remained clear at 4-2 before the Antrim cueman pulled one back.
Both players had chances in a scrappy eighth frame, Allen responding to one of Trump's misses by hugging his opponent as he returned to his chair.
It came down to the black and after Trump missed a tough pot with the rest and then pushed the ball over the middle pocket, Allen potted it to level at 4-4.
He took the next with a break of 65 and made 54 off a fluke in the 10th, before another piece of luck left Trump hampered by the blue and he handed Allen a frame-winning chance.
Trump said: "It just turned into a bit of a club game, to be honest.
"It's frustrating because I felt like so far, I've played the best snooker in the whole tournament."
Ding's bid for a historic fourth straight ranking title was ended by Chester potter Walden.
Ding had won the Shanghai Masters, the Indian Open and the International Championship, and victory in York would have brought him the longest run of ranking triumphs since Stephen Hendry's five in 1990.
But Walden pulled out a hard-fought 6-4 win after a tense finish to the 10th frame.
Stuart Bingham comfortably beat Kilkenny surprise package David Morris 6-1.
Upsets of 2006 UK and 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon as well as Jamie Cope, plus a win over amateur Mitchell Travis, made it a successful week in York accompanied by a £12,000 pay packet.
The line-up for next month's Masters was confirmed when former world champion Graeme Dott was eliminated from the UK Championship.
Dott struggled to a 6-2 defeat against Mark Selby in their last 16 clash.
That means Dott cannot overhaul Joe Perry in the rankings. The Scot needed to progress at least one round further than Perry, or reach the final to overhaul Mark Davis.
Milkins had secured his place on Tuesday by beating Matthew Stevens to reach the last 16, while Walden's run to the quarter-finals has also ensured his presence at Alexandra Palace.
Along with Dott and Stevens, both Mark Williams and Ali Carter failed to progress far enough to break into the 16-man field.
With the likes of O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Allen, Selby, Ding and Trump also qualified, the field will look very similar to that for the last 16 in York.
Stephen Maguire, Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy, Bingham, John Higgins and Marco Fu complete the 16, meaning the only differences from the UK fourth round are Fu and Davis replacing Dott and world no93 Morris.
The £600,000 Masters takes place from January 12 to 19.