Tour Championship: Mark Allen advances past John Higgins with hard-fought win

Mark Allen
Mark Allen has already won three tournaments this season [Getty Images]

Mark Allen beat John Higgins 10-7 in hard-fought encounter to move into the quarter-finals of the Tour Championship in Manchester.

Higgins led 4-1 during Monday's opening session but Allen compiled a superb 123 break on his way to levelling matters.

While the duo traded the next four frames, two centuries and a run of 93 helped the Northern Irishman pull away from Scotland's Higgins.

Allen faces China's Ding Junhui in the last eight on Wednesday (19:00 BST).

"I was hanging in there at the start," said the 38-year-old Allen. "He (Higgins) froze me out, but to get out of the earlier session at 4-4 I was happy about.

"It is fine margins in these matches. I won three frames on the black and I also won a frame with John touching a ball with his sleeve so it could have been a very different scoreline."

It was a composed performance from Allen, who grew stronger as the contest wore on in front of healthy crowd attending the first ranking event played in central Manchester.

He also benefitted from coming out on top in three frames decided on the black - crucially winning the seventh frame to reduce the arrears to 4-3. Allen then took the 14th frame to open up a two-frame lead at 8-6 after Higgins saw a long pink rattle in the jaws of the left corner pocket.

While four-time world champion Higgins looked assured among the balls compiling a half century in each of the frames he won, he was let down by his long game and the concession of uncharacteristic fouls.

Higgins sportingly called one on himself for touching the white twice and also brushed the green with his shirt in the 16th frame when he was in, presenting Allen with the chance to take the frame at one visit on his return to the table.

Williams & Wilson establish narrow leads

In Monday evening's other first-round match Mark Williams claimed a 5-3 lead over Tom Ford in a high-scoring affair.

Three-time world champion Williams made breaks of 72, 59, 76 and 86 and looked firmly in control early on.

But Englishman Ford, who appeared to settle after taking his first frame of the match with a century, also knocked in a 73 and wonderful 136 to remain in contention when their contest is played to a conclusion on Tuesday at 19:00 BST.

Gary Wilson earlier made three half centuries and a century as he established a 5-3 advantage over Mark Selby.

Both players looked in good touch as they shared the first four frames, with Welsh Open champion Wilson constructing breaks of 95 and 98, and Selby enjoying a run of 85.

However, Wilson won a keenly-contested fifth frame and had further breaks of 78 and 101. But Selby stayed in touch with a run of 71 in the eighth frame of their best-of-19 encounter, which is scheduled to resume at 13:00 BST on Tuesday.