World Championship Qualifiers 2011: Holt Exits, Gould and King Progress

With a return trip to Sheffield in store tomorrow morning I have not got time to provide you with a detailed report on today’s matches right now but for a summary of the day’s events, please click below…

Dominic Dale 10-6 Michael Holt

Through to the Crucible for the first time since 2004 is Welshman Dominic Dale who produced an excellent fightback against Michael Holt to defeat the man from Nottingham 10-6 this evening.

The morning session was pretty tense, Holt making the faster start before being pegged back at the interval. Eventually though it was to be Michael who again pulled away, securing a 6-3 lead with a break of 123, albeit aided significantly by an outrageous fluke early in the break which at the time must have been a real sickener for Dominic.

Returning half an hour into the evening session I made it in time to see Dominic closing to within one frame at 6-5, applying pressure on an opponent not renowned for his temperament. At this stage I was asked on Twitter how Michael’s demeanour looked and at the time it was fairly normal for him, but that was all about to change following what proved to be a pivotal 12th frame. During it Michael had two excellent opportunities to re-assert himself on the match but could make neither count, the second ending with a missed black which left Dominic with a slim chance to clear. The difference between 7-5 and 6-6 at this stage felt huge and highlighted by an excellent blue, Dominic pulled out a clearance of 65 to level the scoreline to leave Holt in disarray.

This was confirmed in the next frame, a poor positional shot prompting an almighty cue bang and again Dale took full advantage, moving into the lead for the first time in the match. At this stage Holt looked to be ‘gone.’

Michael’s only saviour looked to be the mid-session interval but in truth it made little difference as although he had chances in every frame, he could not make any count and Dale punished him with runs of 108, 101 and 42 to book him place in the last 32.

Disappointment for Holt but Dale is overdue an appearance at the Crucible and he is such a nice guy off the table so it is good to see him back. He could not believe it when I told him after the match that it has been so long since he last played there!

Nice shoes too.

Martin Gould 10-6 Robert Milkins

The other match that I saw a fair bit of today was a topsy turvy clash between Martin Gould and Robert Milkins which saw the Pinner Potter come through by a 10-6 scoreline, despite being given a scare in the morning session.

Not that it looked that way early on as Martin raced into a 5-0 lead in no time and looked like he could all but wrap the match up in the first session. Unfortunately for Martin however, he could not take advantage of two chances in the following frames, allowing Robert to come to the table to clear on both occasions to get himself back into the match. Looking confident, Robert then added the next two to trail by just one at the close of the session.

With a close match on the cards the evening session looked to be an interesting one but in truth as Martin took the opener to move 6-4 ahead, he was never really troubled and eventually secured the win with a brilliant shot which deserves a mention. On his final break I had said on Twitter that I was sure that it would be 10-6 barring an outrageous kick, which predictably enough came just a few shots later to cause him a late headache.

I cannot remember if it was the next shot or a couple of shots later but Martin had finished touching a red and needing just one more to make sure of the win. With the only pottable red obscured by the black, Martin duly played the black first, knocking it onto the red (which was a fair distance away) and planting it into the pocket. Causing confusion to Robert and some in the crowd, it was a great way to finish what was generally a strong performance from the breakthrough player of last season’s tournament.

The Rest

In truth I did not see much of the other matches, but I did see a pivotal 13th frame between Mike Dunn and Mark King which Mark eventually snatched on the black following a simple blue missed by his opponent. The difference between 8-5 and 7-6, this was where the match was won for King as he took the next two after the interval to wrap up a 10-5 win.

Elsewhere Rory McLeod rammed home an early 7-0 advantage against Mark Davis with what was by all accounts an outrageous cross-double on the final pink before an excellent black with the rest which was close to touching.

Jamie Burnett withstood a good fightback from the out of form Liang Wenbo to cause another shock and win 10-7 while Joe Perry bounced back from a sluggish start to end the run of China’s Liu Song, winning that match 10-6.

Of the afternoon matches, the session between Matthew Stevens and Fergal O’Brien was fairly forgettable, Matt coming out with a slender 5-4 lead while Marcus Campbell won five in a row to lead Matt Selt 6-3 overnight. Selt had actually played some brilliant snooker in frames three and four to lead at the mid-session interval but Campbell soon showed what a good player he can be by upping his came after the break and leaving Selt with a tall order if he is to make his Crucible debut this year.

Finally, Ryan Day and Judd Trump also carry leads into tomorrow, Judd surviving a re-spotted black in the final frame of his session after Gilbert attempted to double it into the green pocket only to stick it over the right-centre. 6-3 inn both matches.