Mark Allen cruises into UK Championship last 16 showdown with Neil Robertson

Mark Allen in action against Hossein Vafaei during day eight of the Betway UK Championship.
Mark Allen in action against Hossein Vafaei during day eight of the Betway UK Championship.

Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen sealed his progress to the last 16 of the UK Championship after seeing off Hossein Vafaei 6-2 in York.

Allen will now take on Neil Robertson on Wednesday evening, who he has beaten in their last two meetings.

The Antrim man quickly opened a 3-0 lead over Iranian Vafaei, who battled back to 3-2.

However, world number seven Allen pulled clear once more to wrap up victory as he booked his place in the last 16 of the competition.

Allen (32) said he would need to improve to defeat Robertson in his next game, despite feeling he played well.

“He’ll be out for revenge - I played well against Hossein but I’ll need to be better against Neil,” Allen said.

“This is where I want to be. I want to compete against the best players on the highest stage and Neil is one of those players.

“He’s a class act, has won this tournament twice and won all the game has to offer.”

Former world champion Robertson, who won the UK Championship in 2013 and 2015, came through 6-5 against Graeme Dott earlier.

Meanwhile, Shaun Murphy believes progress can be made on Ronnie O’Sullivan’s gripes with snooker’s schedule if the sport’s leading player meets with its rule-makers.

O’Sullivan caused a stir at the UK Championship on Sunday when he mooted the idea of a breakaway circuit as a result of frustrations about the way parts of the game is being run.

The five-time world champion, who turns 43 today, said he was “ready to go” and form a Champions League-style event of his own if he could find enough players to go with him.

“As the biggest draw in the game, what he says counts and it matters to the public, the players and World Snooker. Ronnie could be such a power for good in snooker if he wanted to be,” Murphy, who leads the Players Commission, told the BBC.

“I know he’s been invited to get involved with the Players Commission, he’s welcome to come to any meeting the WPBSA has and I know the powers that be... are keen to speak to him as well.”