MARK ALLEN is through to the International Championship final after coming back from the brink of defeat to win a final frame thriller against former world champion Mark Williams.
In one of the best matches of the season so far, Allen secured a place in Sunday’s showdown finale making a vital clearance in the all important 17th frame after Williams crucially missed the final red along the cushion when looking odds-on to win.
Allen then made the match-winning clearance under pressure to set up a final against Ricky Walden which will see the pair battle it out for the £125,000 top prize and their third major ranking title of their careers. Runner up of last month’s Shanghai Masters, Allen will be hoping to to go one better this time around.
But it could have been all so different for the Ulsterman had Williams, playing his best snooker for years, had potted the red when ahead 46-34. Playing the shot slowly towards the corner pocket, the red stayed out and was left on for Allen whose break of 26 was enough to clinch a thrilling contest.
In hindsight Williams could have won the match earlier had he not thrown away a 71 point lead in the 15th frame as Allen fought back, including getting two snookers, to steal the frame to take a crucial 8-7 lead.
To his credit Williams responded in brilliant fashion as he quickly put the disappointment of the previous frame behind him as a break of 86 forced a decider.
A brilliant pot on a red to the middle pocket gave Allen the opening chance but later missed a cut on the pink to gift Williams an opportunity. Williams appeared to be closing out the decider before missing the final red which handed Allen a big reprieve.
Earlier in the match Williams hit consecutive breaks of 120 and 135 to fire level at 2-2 before Allen led 5-3 at the interval with a top break of 105.
Speaking after the game, Allen said winning the 15th frame (from 71-0 behind) proved crucial.
“I’ve been in matches before where I’ve played well or my opponent has played well, but today was one of those rare ones where we both played really well,” he said Allen.
“Mark was two balls away from winning himself but in the end I made a good clearance under pressure.Mark can take a lot of confidence from this event because he hasn’t been in the later stages of a tournament for a while but he has shown why he’s a multiple tournament winner.
“The 15th frame was a big one because Mark was dominating at the time. I needed two snookers and you don’t win many frames from that position.
“I’ll get some rest tonight and I’ll be more than ready for the final.”
**MARK Allen’s semi-final victory today means Ali Carter will definitely be playing in next week’s Champion of Champions event in Coventry.
Carter has not played on the World Snooker tour since the World Championship in May after undergoing treatment and chemotherapy for a form of lung cancer.
The two-times World Championship finalist will make his eagerly anticipated comeback to big time snooker on Friday (November 7) when he will face Neil Robertson in the knock-out event.