Mark Allen ended hopes of a home winner at the BetVictor Welsh Open by beating Michael White 5-0 in the quarter-finals.
The match turned in the second frame when White led by 38 points with one red left, but accidentally knocked the pink in and left a free ball. Allen cleared to go 2-0 ahead and gave a fist pump at that pivotal moment, which riled Neath’s White, who struggled to regain his composure. Allen went on to take the next three frames with top breaks of 55 and 79.
Northern Ireland’s Allen goes through to the semi-finals to face Neil Robertson at 1pm in Cardiff on Saturday. He is through to the last four of this event for the first time and needs just two more wins to capture his third ranking title.
Allen said: “The fist pump was part of the game plan, as was not apologising for some good running in the next frame. I thought it might get to him. He was playing in a big match in front of his home Welsh crowd, I have done the same in Northern Ireland and you are under a lot more pressure.
“I tried to get him more frustrated, and when he smashed the reds in frame three I knew I had him. He is such a good player, I needed a game plan to contain him.
“I watched an item on BBC today where fellow professionals were criticising me for my style of play and all sorts. Steve Davis made a comment. Shaun Murphy made a comment, but I know him well and we have had a chat about it privately, I sort of know where he was coming from.
“Some of these comments were very derogatory and I said to my coach Terry Griffiths I couldn’t wait to get out there.”
As for tomorrow’s clash with Robertson, Allen added: “Neil has beaten me a few times in big events, and tonight’s plan won’t work on him as he is far too experienced so I will have to be somewhere near my best. He is the player of the season to date but there are only four left now and I can beat him.”
White said: “I would like to apologise to all the people from Wales who came to support me tonight. After the way I lost the second frame I lost it for a while.
“I didn’t like the fist pump, because of the way he won the frame. It wasn’t his good play, I was very unlucky to knock in the pink and leave a free ball. It is something I won’t forget for a long time, certainly when I play him again next time.”
Joe Perry scored a 5-1 victory over last year’s runner-up Ben Woollaston and now faces the task of stopping the in-form Ronnie O’Sullivan. Woollaston had chances in every frame but could’t take them and Chatteris cueman Perry enjoyed a comfortable win with top breaks of 50, 57, 74 and 71.
“It was a good open game tonight which is my kind of snooker,” said Perry, who won his first ranking title at the Players Championship last season. “It will be a great occasion tomorrow night and I want to perform, although I might still get a kicking. I will get chances and I have to put Ronnie under pressure because no one has done that yet.
“He’s playing as well as anyone ever has and that is daunting. I will try to play to the best of my ability. I’m bound to be nervous – I always am – but sometimes that works in your favour.”
Woollaston said: “I can’t believe I lost 5-1, I should have won every frame. I’m gutted because I really wanted to play Ronnie tomorrow. I was watching his match against Mark Selby earlier and I was laughing at how good he was. It was like a computer game. No one else can play like that.”