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Mark Allen v Stuart Bingham: UK Championship 2018 preview – Pistol and Ball Run battle to reach final

Jamie Shaw in UK Championship

Bingham and Allen face off in York (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Allen aims to progress to a second UK Championship final at the expense of a resurgent Stuart Bingham when the pair collide in York on Saturday.

Allen, runner-up here in 2011, has enjoyed undoubtedly the best year of his career to date, winning the Masters title in January and going on to claim glory in last month’s International Championship.

The attacking left-hander has surged up to world number six in the process and now has his sights set on the second piece of snooker’s Triple Crown puzzle.

Allen kick-started his run with a 6-2 win over Egypt’s Basem Eltahhan in Round One before dispatching Rory McLeod and Hossein Vafaei by the same scoreline.

He then edged out two-time UK Champion Neil Robertson in an epic last-frame decider before thrashing 2004 champion Stephen Maguire 6-1 in Friday’s Quarter-Finals.

Bingham, who sat out last year’s UK Championship due to suspension, has made up for lost time by reaching his third UK Semi-Final since 2013.

The 2015 World Champion has stormed back to form this season, winning the English Open to cement his place among the sport’s elite top 16 and will fancy his chances of securing a second Triple Crown trophy.

He began his run with a whitewash of veteran James Wattana, before edging out Kurt Mafin in a deciding frame and denying David Gilbert 6-2 in a match which featured four centuries.

Bingham then ended the run of Thailand’s Sunny Akani before making light work of Champion of Champions finalist Kyren Wilson with a 6-1 rout in the Last Eight.

Allen compiled his 400th career century on Saturday, while Bingham has racked up six tons in York, including the tournament high break of 145.

There is nothing to separate the two players in terms of their overall head-to-head record, having claimed four wins apiece from their eight previous meetings.

The most high-profile of which saw Bingham thrash the Ulsterman 10-3 in the final of the 2014 Shanghai Masters, while Allen has won both of their past encounters in this competition (2008 and 2010).

Their latest encounter gets underway from 7pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames.

Either reigning and six-time UK Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan or world number 36 Tom Ford will await the winner in Sunday’s final.