Englishman Barry Pinches, the surprise package of the circuit this season, pulled off a last gasp victory over Maltese number one Tony Drago to reach the second round of the Welsh Open at Cardiff today.
The world number 36 cleared to the pink to secure a 5-4 victory after Drago had missed the brown with the rest in the decider.
Pinches reached his first quarter-final in 14 years as a professional at the Travis Perkins UK Championship in November.
The 33-year-old has qualified for the final stages of five of the season’s first six tournaments.
“I’m very pleased with how the season is going,” Pinches said.
“I’m the only snooker player from Norwich and everyone there was very excited about my run in the UK Championship. I just hope I can keep it going.”
Pinches led 3-1 before Drago won the fifth with a break of 77 and made it 3-3 with a run of 103.
Pinches responded with a 133 total clearance but Drago’s 101 forced the contest the distance.
“It was a game of two halves and the standard was very high,” Pinches said. “In the end, Tony potted a terrific green but after missing the brown he left me three easy pots for the match.”
Pinches now meets world number five Stephen Lee, whom he beat 9-6 in the UK Championship, for a place in the last 16.
Finnish number one Robin Hull withdrew in the third frame of his match against Michael Holt because of a thyroid problem.
Dave Harold has also pulled out after injuring his wrist on New Year’s Eve. Marcus Campbell therefore receives a walkover, but the Scot’s elation turned to despair when he arrived in Cardiff to find his cue had been smashed in half.
“I asked the flight attendant whether I could take the cue into the cabin,” said Campbell, the world number 42, who had travelled on a flight from Prestwick.
“At first she said that she would put it under the seats but after a conference with her colleagues, I was told it had to go in the hold with all the other luggage.
“I don’t have a replacement and I’m absolutely devastated.”
Campbell has gone to see Trevor White, a local ‘cue doctor’ who repaired world champion Mark Williams’ cue when it was damaged by baggage handlers in Ireland.
He has until Wednesday morning to get used to a new piece of wood before he faces world number four John Higgins.
Leicester’s Mark Selby won the last three frames to beat Thai number one James Wattana 5-3.
Redcar’s Mike Dunn defeated Ian McCulloch of Preston 5-3.