UK Championship: Mark Allen beats veteran Nigel Bond for a place in the semi-finals

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Allen ends Bond run to reach semi-finals

Mark Allen ended world number 98 Nigel Bond's heroic run at the UK Championship by edging a final-frame decider 6-5 to reach the semi-finals.

Veteran Bond, 54, led 3-1 but last year's runner up Allen responded to go 4-3 and 5-4 ahead.

Bond forced a decider by claiming the 10th frame, but Allen's cool 69 under pressure took him through.

Northern Ireland's Allen will face Scot Stephen Maguire on Saturday after he defeated Wales' Matthew Stevens 6-4.

Despite seeming to be hampered by the fractured foot he suffered in China in October and hobbling round the table, Maguire, the 2004 champion, was in imperious scoring form, making two centuries and five further breaks of 50 or more.

Maguire said: "The adrenaline was pumping and I was walking around as though it was normal but I might pay for that once I calm down in the morning.

"The last few matches it has been getting sore because I have been on my feet and it has been the tension but I got carried away by playing a little bit too quickly. I was zoned out."

In the other semi-final, two-time winner Ding Junhui faces teenager Yan Bingtao on Saturday afternoon, live on BBC TV and online.

Favourite Allen signals intent

Englishman Bond turned professional in 1989, reaching the 1995 World Championship final and winning his only career ranking event at British Open the following year.

But he has never reached the last four of the UK Championship, his best showing reaching the quarter-finals on five occasions, the previous one 16 years ago.

He caused a huge shock this year by ousting world number one and world champion Judd Trump in the second round and looked to be on the way to another surprise victory when taking a two-frame advantage over Allen and taking the contest to 5-5.

But world number seven Allen, beaten in the 2011 final by Trump and again by Ronnie O'Sullivan last year, is the highest ranked player left in the tournament and signalled his intent by closing out the match in style.

Allen said: "I was really edgy at the start and everyone expected me to beat Nigel. I did not handle that very well today even in the build-up. I am proud of how I played after the interval and regrouped.

"I don't mind being tournament favourite, it was more how much of a favourite I was in that match, I did not really feel comfortable with it. I managed to turn it around."

Regarding the table, Allen said: "It is probably the worst I have played on as a professional. There have been complaints from pretty much every player and it is simply not good enough for the second biggest tournament in the calendar.

"The pockets are too tight, the cloth is not of the best quality and it makes it very slow and heavy, the cushions are starting to bounce dramatically but it should be better when it is recovered for the one-table set-up."

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