Mark Allen scrapes past amateur Wilson at Welsh Open

Mark Allen
Mark Allen

Mark Allen threw his arms around coach Terry Griffiths in the backroom of Newport Centre on Friday as if he had won the World Championships itself.

It was because the 27-year-old world ranked number 12 from Antrim nearly came a cropper and the first major shock to hit this week’s BetVictor Welsh Open.

Sydney Wilson, a 23-year-old amateur from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, came within two pots of not just knocking out Allen in the first round but whitewashing him 4-0.

But Wilson missed a reasonably easy pink ball, left a red hanging over a middle pocket and felt his confidence hit the floor and signalled a remarkable fightback by Allen for a 4-3 win, finished in the deciding frame with a 112 clearance.

Allen admitted complacency of playing an amateur may have been part of the reason why he fell apart before digging in.

The Ulsterman, who will be back in action next Monday, joked afterwards: “It was never in doubt!

“I don’t really know what happened,” he said.

“I didn’t see those first frames happening. I have been practicing hard but just couldn’t get anything going and couldn’t concentrate.Probably in the back of my mind, I knew I was playing somebody who is on the amateur scene and I just completely let it get to me.

“He will probably say that, by his standard, he did not play well yet he was 3-0 up which shows how poor I was but, when my back was against the wall at 3-0 down and behind in the next frame, I put him under a bit of pressure and did a good clearance.

“I am happy enough to get through. In a week’s, time it will be a ‘W’ against my name so I don’t care how I get it.”

It will, however, be a wake-up call to Allen as he heads towards the business end of the snooker season, and the Holy Grail, the World Championships, in April.

“I dug deep in this match and played well enough from 3-1 down. I have chosen not to play in a couple of tournaments recently and that has left me fresh so I should have been fine today.”