Mark Allen won a quickfire shoot-out with Tony Drago to book his place in the final stages of the UK Championship at Pontin’s, Prestatyn today.
Allen, 20, made breaks of 84, 66 and 56 to win the last three frames and beat the fast-potting Maltese 9-7.
The average frame duration for the match was only 10 minutes, with five frames taking less than nine minutes each to complete.
Drago, forced to pre-qualify after dropping out of the top 32 last season, produced a 56 clearance to win the 12th frame and make it 6-6.
He won the next on the colours to edge ahead before Northern Irish newcomer Allen stepped up a gear to advance to York, where he faces David Gray, the runner-up to Stephen Maguire last year.
“It’s not often I play someone even quicker than me but it suits my game because you know you’ll always get chances,” said Allen, who beat Steve Davis in his first match as a professional at the Northern Ireland Trophy in August.
“All credit to Tony, he gave me a great game but I managed to scrape over the line at the end.”
Ricky Walden, who reached the last 16 at York last season, ensured it was double disappointment for Malta when he beat their other professional, Alex Borg, 9-5.
The key frame was the 12th, where Walden doubled the re-spotted black to lead 7-5 before adding the next two frames.
Unlike most players, the 22-year-old does not have to stay at the Prestatyn holiday camp because he lives just a few minutes away in nearby Bagillt.
“I went home between sessions and my mum got the steak sandwiches out, which must have been a factor,” said Walden, the world number 48.