Martin O’Donnell and Sam Craigie completed the line-up for the Group Winners’ phase of Matchroom.Live Championship League after topping their respective groups on Monday.
O’Donnell drew 2-2 with Mark Allen in the closing match of Group 11 to book the final spot in the second phase of the competition. Both players went into the match with six points on the board, but a draw was enough for O’Donnell as he had a better frame difference.
The Londoner took the first frame of the decider before Allen hit back with a 70, and the Northern Irishman then took the lead when he won the third on the pink. That meant it was winner-takes-all in the final frame.
O’Donnell built a 62 break but had to play safe with 59 remaining. However, Allen conceded when he wasn’t able to force the required snooker.
“I am pleased to go through and think I played pretty well all day,” said O’Donnell, who will face Tom Ford, Liang Wenbo and Ben Woollaston in Winners’ Phase Group D on Tuesday.
“I got a bit bogged down in the second game [against Nigel Bond], it went a bit scrappy and you end up not wanting to go for a ball. I know that’s a problem of mine in those situations and I got a good dressing down off my coach after that game. He told me to come out and be positive and remember that I’m playing well.
“I should have probably beaten Mark tonight, but I got the job done. I try until the end and have lots of fighting spirit in me. I knew, especially once I won the first frame, that whatever happens I would be in it until the end. I have been working really hard on the mental side of things and I’m pleased I made a good break in the end to finish off there, because two years ago I would have crumbled and he would have beaten me.”
On table two, Craigie topped Group 6 to join Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stuart Bingham and Harvey Chandler in Group C of the winners’ phase, which will play out on table one tomorrow.
Craigie faced Dominic Dale in the last match of group action, a fixture which was moved to the TV table. The winner would advance and the Wallsend potter took the spoils in style, with breaks of 131, 71 and 123 to beat Dale in under 40 minutes.
“I have played well all day but that is the best I’ve played,” said Craigie, who had earlier beaten Matt Selt 3-0 and drawn 2-2 with Ali Carter. “I felt pretty good all day and it all came together in the last match.
“I haven’t practised at all, I came here relaxed, knowing it was guaranteed money, and winning the group is a bonus. I’ll come back tomorrow, it’s something to look forward to and hopefully I can win that and carry on in the tournament.”
Matchroom.Live Championship League now moves to the Group Winners’ phase, where the 16 group champions return in four groups of four hoping to progress to Thursday’s Tournament Finals group. O’Sullivan, Bingham, Chandler and Craigie will feature on table one on Tuesday, while table two will see O’Donnell join Ford, Wenbo and Woollaston.
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/.