Mark Allen Clinches Thrilling Victory in Johnstone’s Paint Players Championship

Mark Allen secured his third title of the season at the Johnstone’s Paint Players Championship in Telford after a challenging 10-8 victory over China’s Zhang Anda. The thrilling match concluded just before midnight, with Allen claiming his 11th career ranking silverware, the fifth since the 2021 Northern Ireland Open.

Despite a slower start in the current 23/24 campaign compared to his Player of the Season performance last term, the 38-year-old reaffirmed his elite status and winning prowess. Notably, Allen clinched victories in the Champion of Champions and the Shoot Out late last year.

This triumph marks Allen’s second Players Championship title, with his first win in 2016 against Ricky Walden. The £125,000 top prize propels Allen from 12th to fourth position on the one-year list, securing his qualification for the Johnstone’s Paint Tour Championship.

Unfortunately, Zhang’s defeat means he misses out on a spot in the upcoming Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker, while Ali Carter retains the final spot in 8th position on the world rankings.

The afternoon session saw both players tied at 4-4 after eight closely contested frames. Allen took the lead 5-4 in the evening session, only for Zhang to respond with two consecutive frames, including a run of 64. However, Allen rallied, equalizing before the mid-session break.

In the 13th frame, Zhang had the first opportunity but broke down on 30, allowing Allen to move ahead 7-6 with a break of 64. The following 14th frame was dramatic and tense, with both players missing final pinks. Zhang’s error provided Allen with an opportunity to extend his lead to 8-6.

The subsequent frames were closely fought, with each player securing one, leaving Allen on the brink of victory at 9-7. Despite a break of 50 by Zhang extending the match, Allen controlled the 18th frame to claim victory after an epic seven-hour and 17-minute battle.

Reflecting on the win, Allen acknowledged the challenging journey and expressed optimism for the upcoming weeks, emphasizing the importance of finding comfort in his technique to perform well in the remaining tournaments.

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