Wonderful Wilson on the verge of a quarter-final spot
Kyren Wilson is just two frames away from a quarter-final place at the Betfred World Championship for the first time after a scintillating display of snooker against Mark Allen on Sunday.
The Kettering potter simply outplayed Allen in the morning session at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, reeling off the first seven frames with some incredible long potting.
Allen did clinch the final frame of the session but nobody in Crucible history has ever come back from 7-1 down to win a best-of-25 clash.
However, the Northern Irishman looked set to give that record a challenge when he returned to the baize for the evening session – wasting little time in racking up the first four frames and reducing his deficit to 7-5.
But the mid-session interval came at just the right time for Wilson as he found his stride to start producing the sort of free-flowing snooker that had characterised the morning’s play, eventually winning all four frames after the break to make it 11-5 with 13 the target for victory.
In a best-of-25 encounter, it is tough to call the opening frame a turning point but with little to choose between the players, Wilson won the safety battle on the final pink to edge into a 1-0 lead.
That hard-fought victory in the opening exchanges seemed to galvanise the talented Northamptonshire cueman as breaks of 50 and 55 helped him notch up a rapid 4-0 lead.
The 15-minute mid-session interval did nothing to halt the 24-year-old’s momentum as a fluent 93 break in frame five and a majestic 103 in frame seven saw him move 7-0 ahead.
To his credit, Allen did avoid a rare Crucible session whitewash but, at 7-1 behind, looked to have little chance of reaching a first World Championship quarter-final since 2011.
Wilson has had a breakthrough season this year, winning a maiden ranking event at the Shanghai Masters, shooting up the rankings to 19 in the world and qualifying for the Crucible for just the second time in his young career.
But it was three-time ranking event winner Allen who came out in the evening session like a man possessed – scoring incredibly heavily with breaks of 122, 103, 60 and 66 to suddenly narrow the deficit to 9-5.
Wilson beat the 30-year-old 6-1 in the Shanghai Masters semi-finals en route to lifting the trophy and summoned that spirit to re-establish his dominance after the mid-session interval.
A classy knock of 82 followed by a pair of 30 breaks made it 9-5 and when Allen brushed a red ball with the shaft of his cue as he looked set in frame 15, the Englishman capitalised to move five frames ahead.
A back-and-forth final frame was eventually clinched by Wilson on the black and it will take an unbelievable effort from Allen to deny his opponent a quarter-final against world No.1 Mark Selby when they resume at 1pm on Monday.
Watch the World Championship LIVE on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan.