Mark Allen's World Snooker Championship challenge hanging by a thread against Mark Selby.Mark Allen's World Snooker Championship chances are once again hanging by a thread, but the Antrim ace at least showed some of the battling attributes he will need to complete a fightback against Mark Selby.
For a player as accomplished as Allen, a five-time ranking event and one-time Masters winner, his recent record at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre is mystifyingly sub-par.
Just one quarter-final appearance in the past decade, with first and second-round exits the norm, is certainly not reflective of his talent, but the second round looks set to be the insurmountable obstacle once again in 2021.
Allen trails three-time world champion Selby 9-6 heading into this evening's third and final session, with 13 frames the target for a coveted place in the last-eight.
Things could have been even bleaker, given he was 6-2 down heading into Sunday afternoon, but the Northern Irishman dug deep to close the gap by a frame.
His average shot time for the season is a shade over 20 seconds but, in this match, it has been hovering around 26.3 seconds - showing a grit and willingness to graft that hasn't always been present in his Crucible performances, but is necessary to match the ultimate grinder in Selby.
Allen needed a fast start yesterday and a composed break of 67 proved enough to take the first frame, although Selby hit back with a brilliant 135 in the next.
The pair then split the next two lengthy frames to leave the score at 8-4 but Allen wasn't planning to go quietly, as runs of 78 and 75 after the mid-session interval suddenly narrowed the deficit to just two frames.
With play overrunning, frame 15 would prove to be the last of the day and unfortunately for the Northern Irishman, Selby hit his stride as a break of 66 ensured his overnight lead stands at 9-6 rather than the much-more palatable 8-7.
The Englishman is still four frames away from victory however, so Allen's chances aren't over, even if the world No.13 will have to dig deeper than ever this evening if he is to end his recent Crucible hoodoo.