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‘Dreadful’ King into Northern Ireland Open last four

PUBLISHED: 10:25 19 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:25 19 November 2016

Romford's Mark King (pic PA)

Romford's Mark King (pic PA)

SIPA USA/PA Images

Romford potter scraps into semi-finals

Mark King admitted he was left flabbergasted at how he had reached the Coral Northern Ireland Open semi-finals after an error-strewn effort somehow saw him get past Hossein Vafaei Ayouri.

Both players were far from at their best in a hotly-tempered match at Belfast’s Titanic Exhibition Centre, the Romford potter coming from behind to prevail 5-3.

It’s a result the world number 35 conceded was still a mystery to him, though he now goes on to face world number 15 Kyren Wilson in today’s afternoon session.

“I was absolutely dreadful, we were both absolutely awful and I just kept throwing frames away with easy ball, after easy ball,” said King.

“It’s probably one of the worst games I’ve played in a big match, but I’ve still gone through.

“I’m over the moon. I managed to hold it together in that last frame and the semi-final is another day – maybe I can pull it out of the bag for Kyren.”

Despite King taking the lead, it was off-table incidents doing the talking as early as the second frame, with world number 82 Vafaei visibly upset his opponent didn’t concede the frame.

With words exchanged between the two, King took himself away from the table with just two balls remaining in the next frame, an action that did little to restore the peace.

But after five scrappy frames it was the Iranian who boasted the advantage, 3-2, a lead he had chances to build on.

But experience pulled the 42-year-old through in the end, with his final-frame break of 65 not giving Vafaei a chance, though King was keen to play down the fiery nature of the contest.

“I think there was a bit of misinterpretation,” he said. “I came to the table with four snookers needed, but he expected me to concede. I’ve won frames from there so I carried on, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it niggle.

“Sometimes you can get some momentum from lost causes. But he shook his head at me and bashed some balls around which I couldn’t understand.

“That wound me up when I just wanted to enjoy the game. It fizzled out thankfully and it’s not something I want to be involved in.

“At the end of the day, I’m through and that is what matters.”

*Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport 1 and Quest, featuring daily studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.

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