Greame Dott made a welcome return to the top 16 with a hard-fought and well deserved victory over Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen.
The Scotsman had resumed 8-8 with Allen but swiftly moved in front in the first frame of the day with a break of 65 but then had to watch Allen level at 9-9. As the match entered it’s final stages it was now effectively the best of seven. Yet Allen must be wondering how it reached that stage to start with, especially as it was Allen who charged into a 4-0 lead at the start of the contest.
And it looked for all the world that it was praying on Allen’s mind as Dott continued to put the Antrim man under severe pressure by firing in a break of 54 before scampering to safety. The cue ball wedged under the baulk cushion duly drew the safety error from Mark who allowed the Scot to have another bite of the cherry in clearing up to seal a 10-9 lead.
Dott really should have made it 11-9 and given himself some breathing space but a break of 53 came to an end when he missed a long red to the corner. Allen, though, effectively frozen out of the game failed to counter when he missed a red to the corner to let Graeme back in. This time though the Scotsman was unable to capitalise and it was Allen who snatched the frame from out of the fire with the help of a 30 break, then laid a snooker on the last red. Dott failed to escape – even much worse was to come as a double kiss left the red at Allen’s mercy and Allen made no mistake as he cleared up with 35 to snatch the frame, punching the air as the ball dropped.
Allen then took full advantage of Dott’s discomfort to cruise into an 11-10 lead. Incredibly there was further drama in store as Allen, inspired from his exploits wrested the initiative in frame 23 as he was presented with a relatively simple table. Having got in courtesy of a Dott mistake the Antrim man could only make 3 before missing a simple red to the centre. This was to be the decisive moment as Dott sunk the red and cleared up with a break of 115 to move to only 11-12 behind.
From there Allen’s self belief crumbled and Dott, revived by his escape in the previous frame duly forced a decider with breaks of 30 and 25 after Allen had missed a straight blue to the corner pocket. Having wiped out the 12-10 deficit now had the momentum going into the final frame shoot out.
But it was Allen who missed the boat with a failed red to the top corner pocket. Dott fired in a run of 28 before scampering to the safety off the baulk cushion, where he concocted the snooker that was to decide the match. With the cue ball stuck behind the green Allen needed to find an escape route that wouldn’t leave Dott with an opportunity to swoop on. Electing to hit and hope the Northern Irishman could only watch in horror as he smashed the pack of reds wide open and freed the balck which had been tied up on the top cushion. The table was at the mercy of the Scotsman and he made no mistake as he sunk an simple red to the centre and ran up a break of 41 that decided the match and forced a warm gesture of congratulations from a valliant Allen.
Dott now goes on to face the winner of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Sleby who resume this afternoon, locked at 4-4 and will play to a finish tonight. Elsewhere this morning Allister Carter wiped out an 8-4 lead that Shaun Murphy had held at the mid-session interval to level the match at 8-8. They will play to a finish tonight and it looks set to be a late one..