'That's what counts': Mark Allen through to UK Championship semi-final after another tight victory
Mark Allen outlined his determination to go one better than last year and lift the Betway UK Championship trophy, after he edged into the semi-finals at the York Barbican.
The 33-year-old - who was also runner-up in 2011 - had squeezed into the last eight following a dramatic, final-ball win over Kurt Maflin, and his progress at the competition was once again threatened by veteran Nigel Bond before he edged another last frame 6-5 success.
Bond, 54, had dumped reigning world champion Judd Trump out of the competition in round three - before beating Gary Wilson - and despite taking an early lead Allen found himself 3-1 down at the mid-session interval.
And while admitting he never fully found his rhythm, the Northern Irishman insisted he was simply pleased to remain in the hunt for one of snooker’s most prestigious titles as he prepares to face Stephen Maguire in Saturday's semi-final.
“I’m here so I’ve still got a chance,” he said. “I’ve been in the final twice before so I know what it takes to get to the Sunday stage, but I’m not just here to do that again. I want to win.
“I think I was playing and scoring a lot better last year, but I know I have a great opportunity to go on and go one better, and I’m hopeful I can do that.
“I’d been pretty edgy all day in the build up to the game. It’s the first time I’ve been such a big favourite in the later stages of an event and I don’t think I handled that well.
“But I always fancy doing the job when it goes close. I felt quite calm - even if I did fear the worst when I missed the black in the last frame - but I got over the line and that’s what counts in the end.”
Following a series of high-profile exits, Allen is the highest-ranked player left in the tournament and among the favourites to claim the title on one of the snooker’s most prestigious stages.
Scottish potter Stephen Maguire stands in his way of a place in Sunday’s showpiece, and the 2018 Masters winner is hoping to put on a spectacle in what he expects to be a closely-fought affair.
Allen added: “I get on really well with Stephen and I’m sure we’ll both be trying our absolute best out there to get that spot in the final. I know I need to play a lot better than I have done so far so may the best man win.
“We’ll both go for our shots, we’re both really aggressive and we try to score. That’s what the crowd want to see so hopefully we can put on a show.”
Watch the UK Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White.
Belfast Telegraph Digital