Sunday, 11 December 2011


MARK Allen stormed into the UK Championship final after a commanding performance in the evening session against Ricky Walden. (Suzy Jardine - The Barbican, York)

But Allen did not have everything his own was in a match that see-sawed between with both men enjoying periods of domination.

Allen held a 3-1 advantage at the mid session interval as he took the opener and then followed with breaks of 85 and 54, with Walden interrupting the Allen avalanche with a break of 124 in frame two.

But then the match started to turn as Allen misssed a red to the centre to allow Walden a look at the table. From it Walden made 60. It looked for all of the world that the Chester man would complete the formalities, only to miss the black off the spot. With the balls kindly placed it looked as if Allen would punish Walden for what was a schoolboy error. Only to leave tongues hanging out of our mouths in disbelief as he went in off the green into the centre pocket in clearing up the colours. With this timely reprieve Walden made sure of the frame with green to blue to trail 3-2.

Buoyed up by this piece of good fortune Walden took full advantage of Allen's mistakes in the sixth frame as he left a red tot he corner. Walden swooped and fired in a 66 to level at 3-3. There was no holding Walden now as he capitalised on a red left along the top cushion by the Antrim man to fire in a 98, and then moved 5-3 ahead with a sublime 127 to end the session with a two frame advantage.

After seeing a 3-1 advantage disintergrate into a 3-5 deficit Allen knew he had to immediately reduce his arrears on his return for the evening session. A 43 made the initial running before bits and pieces helped him over the line and within one frame of Walden. And that deficit was swiftly wiped out minutes later as Allen took full advantage of a safety mistake to rattlle in a 79 to square the match at 5-5.

Allen was first in with a 35 in frame eleven only to miss a red to the centre. He then lost out in a safety battle and left Walden a chance.Taking a red to the centre Ricky made progressed to 60, and then came a key moment as he lined up the brown to the centre from behind the baulk line. He could only look on in horror as the brown hit the knuckle and stayed out. Allen was back at the table and made no mistake in dispatching the last few colours to lead 6-5.

And 6-5 very quickly became 7-5 as Allen's 64 accounted for the twelfth frame. Allen had captured the first four frames of the night. And Walden was now back in the same position he had been earlier in the match. Two frames adrift, and time running out for the Chester professional.

The mid session interval could not have come at a better time for Ricky as it allowed him some respite from the onslaught. On his return he he fired in a 52 - only to miss a routine red to the corner. To make matters worse he left it in an emminently potable position for his opponant. 

Seconds later our jaws were sagging as Allen missed and Walden pieced together enough points to scramble over the line and cut the deficit to 7-6.

But Allen soon re-asserted himself as a shot to nothing saw him make 43 and a 33 put him within one frame of victory at 8-6. Walden had revived his ambitions in the match earlier with a four frame burst. Now he needed a three frame one to stay in contention.

It seemed as if Allen was about to complete victory as he found himself among the balls on a 54, only to miss a red to the centre. For Ricky it was now or never and with great care and attention compiled a 65 to rescue the frame and stay in contention at 8-7.

But all of Ricky's hard work was undone in the following frame when an horrific miss on a red to the corner presented Allen with a golden chance to complete victory. And this time he was not to be denied as a controlled break of 70 saw him through to the final with a 9-7 victory and a meeting with Judd Trump.


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