I returned to the famous Crucible Theatre on Tuesday for my second session of snooker at this year’s World Championship, watching the reigning Players Champion Mark Allen take on debutant Mitchell Mann in Round 1.
Just one player who had never previously played at the Crucible (in the World Championship, at least!) had managed come through the qualifiers at Ponds Forge.
24-year-old Mitchell Mann was the sole debutant at this year’s tournament and he got his campaign underway this afternoon having already played a massive 55 frames to get this far, including 10-9 victories over both Matt Selt and Dechawat Poomjaeng – earning himself the nickname ‘Iron Mann’ from MC Rob Walker as a result!
Nerves can often get the better of those making their first ever appearance at the home of snooker, but a break of 69 from Mann to take the opening frame will have certainly eased the tension somewhat and let seventh seed Mark Allen know that he was in a match.
The Northern Irishman quickly responded with a 74 to level, but a 77 from Mann saw him quickly regain the lead at 2-1 before Allen levelled once again with 64 before the mid-session interval.
John Higgins, who I had managed to get a quick selfie with prior to the session, had booked his place in Round 2 with a comfortable 10-3 win over Ryan Day over on the other table. This meant that when the two players returned from their break, they had the whole arena to themselves for the remainder of the afternoon.
Mann had offered an excellent account of himself so far, but upon the restart Allen began to turn on the style and moved 4-2 ahead with breaks of 104 and 85.
A hard-fought frame of around 40 minutes followed with Allen leaving his opponents in all kinds of trouble from snookers before eventually taking it to move further ahead at 5-2.
The final two frames of the session were shared, leaving the score at 6-3, as Mann managed to take the last with a half-century to give himself some hope heading into tomorrow’s concluding session.
However, football commitments meant I had to leave after the seventh frame to make sure I got to the Proact Stadium in time for Chesterfield v Doncaster Rovers! But it won’t be long until I’m back at the Crucible as I return tomorrow evening for the conclusion of Martin Gould v Ding Junhui.