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Fergal O'Brien edges record-breaking deciding frame while Mark Williams misses out on World Championship qualification

Fergal O'Brien prevailed the winner in a mammoth final frame against David Gilbert (credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Fergal O'Brien snatched the final place in the 2017 World Snooker Championship in dramatic fashion after prevailing in a world-record deciding frame against David Gilbert, while two-time champion Mark Williams will miss out following a 10-7 defeat to Stuart Carrington at Ponds Forge on Wednesday.

O'Brien, who last appeared at The Crucible in 2010, recovered from 9-7 down to eventually progress on the colours following a mammoth decider which lasted two hours, three minutes and 41 seconds.

Having trailed 6-3 overnight, the veteran Irishman fought back by reeling off the opening four frames of the second session, but found himself on the brink of defeat after Gilbert won the next three to go 9-7 up.

Nevertheless, the former Masters finalist, who has lost in the final qualifying round in five of the last six years, battled well to force a decider which, following a seemingly endless safety battle on the colours, he eventually took by sinking the brown and blue for an emotional victory.

There was also a dramatic win for Zhou Yuelong, who beat Ben Woollaston 10-9 on the final pink to secure his maiden appearance in the final stages.

The 19-year-old’s success means that there will be five players making their debut at the Crucible this year along with Noppon Saengkham, Yan Bingtao, David Grace and Gary Wilson.

Holding a narrow 5-4 advantage overnight, Zhou and Woollaston were neck and neck up until 6-6, when breaks of 71 and 76 saw former Welsh Open finalist pull two frames clear at 8-6.

Stuart Carrington denied Mark Williams (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
However, the Chinese prodigy responded by reeling off the next three with runs of 63, 81 and 72 for 9-8, only for his opponent to respond by forcing a decider on the colours.

Proceedings were understandably tense with so much at stake for the two players but, after a cagey affair, a foul by Woollaston led to Zhou crunching in a terrific long yellow before clearing to the pink to snatch a dramatic victory.

He is joined in the main draw by Thailand’s Saengkham, who will also make his first appearance at the Home of Snooker after recovering from 6-3 down with breaks of 122 and 134 on the way to seeing off Lee Walker 10-8.

Although, there was no joy for two-time winner Williams, who was denied a 20th appearance at the Crucible by an inspired Carrington.

Despite being pegged back to 8-7 from 8-4 up, the Grimsby cueist hit back with a break of 104 to move to the brink of a place in the main stages, which he secured for the first time since 2015 with a wonderful 64 counter clearance.

It was better news for 2006 champion Graeme Dott after the Pocket Dynamo prevailed a 10-8 winner against Jamie Jones.

The Scotsman, who trailed 4-0 earlier in the contest, demonstrated his trademark tenacity to lead 7-6 and, despite Jones responding with 133 for 8-7, breaks of 86, 57 and 77 saw him progress to the Crucible for an 18th time.

Fellow countryman Stephen Maguire secured a 14th straight appearance after a 10-5 success over Li Hang.

Maguire was pegged back to 7-5 from 7-2 up, but showed his class with breaks of 131 and 104 on the way to seeing him over the line.

Elsewhere, Tom Ford advanced to the Crucible for the first time since 2014 after coming through a 10-8 victor in a real seesaw encounter with Hossein Vafaei while Rory McLeod, who last appeared in 2011, survived a brilliant Hammad Miah fightback from 7-0 down to 7-6 before prevailing 10-7.

Betfred World Championship Qualifiers 2017 Results

Wednesday April 12 

Round Three - Evening Session

Mark Williams 7-10 Stuart Carrington
Tom Ford 10-8 Hossein Vafaei
Lee Walker 8-10 Noppon Saengkham
Li Hang 5-10 Stephen Maguire
Ben Woollaston 9-10 Zhou Yuelong
Jamie Jones 8-10 Graeme Dott
Fergal O'Brien 10-9 David Gilbert
Rory McLeod 10-7 Hammad Miah



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Fergal O'Brien edges record-breaking deciding frame while Mark Williams misses out on World Championship qualification

Fergal O'Brien snatched the final place in the 2017 World Snooker Championship in dramatic fashion after prevailing in a world-record deciding frame against David Gilbert, while two-time champion Mark Williams will miss out following a 10-7 defeat to Stuart Carrington at Ponds Forge on Wednesday.

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