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Mark Williams v Mark Allen live stream | Northern Ireland Open 2022 preview

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Neil Robertson v Mark Selby live stream | Northern Ireland Open 2022 preview

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Allen edges out Williams to reach Northern Ireland Open semis

Allen has won 11 straight matches in Belfast (SPP Sport Press Photo/Alamy Live News)

Former champions Mark Williams and Mark Allen collide for a place in the Northern Ireland Open semi-finals on Friday.

It is a battle of the Marks as the only remaining past winners of this event go head to head in what should be another cracking clash at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

Home favourite Allen is just three wins away from completing a successful defence of the title he won in dramatic fashion 12 months ago; recovering from 8-6 down to defeat John Higgins 9-8 in the final.

The Pistol has now won 11 consecutive matches in front of his home crowd, having overcome Chang Bingyu, Chen Zifan, Andy Lee and Xiao Guodong to reach his third Northern Ireland Open quarter-final (his other appearance coming in 2016) – and sixth in the Home Nations series.

Allen has also prevailed in 11 of his 20 meetings with Williams, though the Welshman was a 13-5 winner in their only previous quarter-final encounter at the 2011 World Championship.

Williams’ career revival began here in 2017, when he ended his six-year wait for ranking silverware with a 9-8 victory over Yan Bingtao in the showpiece.

The three-time World champion is now set for his 105th ranking quarter-final following a trio of 4-2 wins over Peter Lines, Alexander Ursenbacher and Jimmy Robertson, while he recovered from 3-2 down with breaks of 77 and 69 edging him past Stephen Maguire in the last 16.

The winner of this match will play either Neil Robertson or Mark Selby in this year’s Northern Ireland Open semi-finals.

Play gets underway at around 7pm BST on Friday with the match contested over the best of nine frames at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.