World No.83 Ashley Carty beat Neil Robertson and then Ken Doherty in dramatic fashion to progress to the second phase of Matchroom.Live Championship League, while Barry Hawkins topped Group 16 with seven points.
Carty shocked the World No.2 to win the day’s opening match 3-1, before drawing 2-2 with Kurt Maflin, who had lost his first game to Doherty. When Robertson then drew with the 1997 World Champion, it meant that the group’s final clash, Doherty v Carty, would be decisive.
The Darling of Dublin needed a win, while a draw would be enough for Carty unless his opponent topped his group high break of 87.
Carty took the first two frames to sit on the edge of the next stage, but Doherty rolled back the years with a masterful 90 break to pull the match back to 2-1. That meant the draw was then enough for the 1997 World Champion; whoever won the final frame would progress.
The fourth frame brought drama too. With one red left and Carty 21 ahead, the Yorkshireman made a fine long red under pressure but missed the green, leaving Doherty needing one snooker and the colours to take the frame. However, when Carty fluked a brown with his opponent in search of that required snooker, the match was over.
“I am over the moon,” said Carty, who will face Gary Wilson, Luca Brecel and Mark Joyce in the next round.
“I got off to a really good start against Neil, quite surprisingly beat him. I know I am capable on my day but fortunately for me he struggled. I should have beaten Maflin really, I had a few good chances, and then against Ken I was in shreds towards the end. I don’t know how I missed the green but fortunately for me it didn’t matter.
“My 87, it was against Maflin, and I missed an easy pink. I knew that would come back to haunt me, but thankfully I did the job in the end. I came here for a bit of practice leading up to the World Championships and never really expected to win the group but I have proved I can hold my own against the top players.”
Hawkins advanced on table two to join a Winners’ Phase group which also includes Judd Trump, David Gilbert and Ryan Day. ‘The Hawk’ won each of his first two matches – 3-0 against Hammad Miah and Craig Steadman – meaning a draw against Anthony McGill would be enough.
The Glaswegian had also beaten Miah but had drawn the group opener against Steadman, meaning he required three points to advance.
Hawkins took the first frame but McGill hit back with a 107. Hawkins, though, only needed one more frame and he got it in the third to book a return to Milton Keynes on Wednesday.
“I started off okay, played a couple of good matches and match a couple of good breaks,” said Hawkins. “That was a bit scrappy there, me and Anthony, but that’s to be expected.
“I’ve been playing for just over a week now; the owner has been kind enough to let me up the club – it has been closed and is still closed but he has let me up in the mornings.”
Matchroom.Live Championship League continues on Monday with the final first-phase Groups. Mark Allen, Martin O’Donnell, Michael White and Nigel Bond are in Group 11 action on table one. Ali Carter, Matt Selt, Sam Craigie and Dominic Dale will feature on table two in Group 6.
Live scoring can be found at www.wst.tv. Group fixtures, results, standings and details of how to watch can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/.