Mark Allen survives final frame thriller against Kurt Maflin to progress to UK Championship quarter-finals
Antrim's Mark Allen survived a thrilling final frame against Kurt Maflin to reach the quarter-finals of the UK Championship at the York Barbican.
The World No.7 looked to be on his way out on several occasions in the final frame, particularly when Maflin fluked in a red to put himself a couple of shots from victory.
However, the World No.42 missed the following pot on the brown ball, and that allowed Allen to the table to clear up and win the 11th frame to triumph 6-5.
Allen will now face either Gary Wilson or Nigel Bond, who knocked out World No.1 Judd Trump, in the last-eight as he looks to reach his third UK Championship final.
The 33-year-old found himself 3-1 down early doors after Maflin recorded breaks of 81 and 113 to pull into the lead, but Allen fought back with 77 and 126 breaks in frames six and seven to find a 4-3 lead.
Allen perhaps should have won the eighth frame, only to see Maflin pinch it to draw level, and then the underdog struck a 128 break to move within one of victory.
But the Northern Irishman forced a decider with a 68 break in the 10th frame before the incredible drama of the concluding frame.
"I keep putting myself in those holes so often!" joked Allen of his ability to grind out the tough results after the match.
"Kurt had played so well to get himself to 3-1. I was proud of how patient I was going back out after the interval. I turned a few (pots) down trying to keep it tight and I had a few good frames. I was disappointed not to go 5-3 up, there was a chance there with a red on the rest - I definitely need some work on the rests, I missed a couple there.
"But, again, Kurt showed his class by potting some excellent balls to go 4-4 and then he hits 100 to make it 5-4, and then you're thinking the worst. I managed to make a good 68 from behind in frame 10, and I fancied myself in the last but Kurt again potted a great red and made 40-odd before he missed.
"Maybe a little bit of inexperience at the latter stages of tournaments is the only thing that cost him there. He probably played just as well, if not better than me today."
With what on paper looks like an easy route to a potential third UK Championship final now opening up in front of him, particularly with defending world champion Trump eliminated, Allen would be considered one of the favourites.
But the Antrim man insists that's definitely not the case, particularly with Trump's conqueror Bond potentially his next opponent.
"There's more players in this tournament than Judd Trump. There are a lot of good players here who are capable of winning this tournament whether he's here or not. I just need to concentrate on my own performances," Allen said.
"But I know over the years I can handle the pressure. I always back myself to clear up when I need to and that's a quality not a lot of players have."
Belfast Telegraph Digital