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Mark Allen latest victim of Ally Pally curse after Masters crash out

Mark Allen during his match against David Gilbert during day two of the 2020 Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace, London. John Walton/PA Wire
Mark Allen during his match against David Gilbert during day two of the 2020 Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace, London. John Walton/PA Wire

By Ross Lawson

Mark Allen has become the latest victim of the Ally Pally curse after crashing out of the Masters at the hands of David Gilbert.

Allen won the prestigious invitational tournament just two years ago but was unceremoniously dumped out of the competition 6-1 by the debutant Gilbert.

The Englishman was good value for the win with Allen’s demise continuing a trend at the Alexandra Palace – with the favourites for all four matches played so far losing in the first round.

The Antrim potter had no answer to the efforts to his opponent in London, not even winning a frame before the mid-session interval in Monday’s evening contest.

The Masters victory in 2018 was the first Allen secured in a Triple Crown event but there were to be no happy memories this time around, despite getting on the board in the fifth frame.

That was to be as good as it got as Gilbert – who was featuring in the top-16 event for the first time in his career – won the last two frames to close out the best-of-11 contest.

Gilbert has broken through to be one of the top players in the world this past 18 months, culminating in a semi-final berth at last year’s World Championships.

His swift start was no surprise, therefore, with breaks of 77 and 121 seeing him race into a 2-0 lead – with the world No.7 accruing just ten points in the process.

The third frame proved arguably the most pivotal in the match though, both players making breaks of 50 before Gilbert producing a gutsy clearance and pinching the spoils on the final black.

Soon his three-frame lead became four – with Allen needing to regroup at the break just to get his head in the contest.

Winning the fifth frame kept the Northern Irishman alive, for the time being at least, bidding to avoid a repeat of his first-round exit at the hands of Luca Brecel 12 months ago.

But his bid to put a run together proved fruitless, another classy break of 95 from Gilbert taking the world No.11 to within one frame of the finishing line.

The seventh frame was an unsurprisingly edgy affair and one untimely mistake proved to be Allen’s final shot of the night, a slip in concentration befitting the disappointing performance he produced at the Alexandra Palace.

Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.

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