February 28, 2010

The Crucible Qualifiers First Round Proper Match Preview with Head to Heads – Updated with Results

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:32 am

They want it so much it hurts. You need balls to get through the qualifiers.

Now that the old boys little knock-about between the paying members of the WPBSA is out of the way we can concentrate on the tournament proper with the good players (with a couple of notable exceptions) chalking their cues and donning their mothballed waistcoats for their own personal tilt at the title. This is where the real action starts and last minute holiday plans are arranged and re-arranged for April for the vast majority. Possibly even for all of the names below that start the long hard slog through to the Crucible from the very beginning. The first round proper, let alone beyond that must seem a long way away for a lot of them.

Below I have listed the matches which make up the first round proper and where the players have met before I have included the match head to heads. As ever I will distinguish between recommended match bets and predictions. Though I have had to break the short price rule in a couple of cases, simply because there is only one bookmaker pricing them up, I’d like to actually get a preview on here and I wrote this in advance.

James Wattana 1  v Lee Page 0

James had a warm up yesterday, a bit closer than I thought it would be but in truth he was never going to lose. As you may have read he is one that I think might have a run in this and there is nothing to suggest that serial loser Lee Page will get anywhere near him here. The Thai beat Page 9-4 in the UK in November and you’d expect a similarly comfortable win for him here. Page is what might be politely termed in golf as ‘a hacker’. Of the 23 matches I have logged for him stretching back to 2006 he has won just three (how is he still on the tour?), his highest tournament break is just 114. The wins came against the mighty David ‘Hulk’ Hogan in this year’s Welsh Open, and over 3 years ago against German Patrick Einsle and the legend that is Dermot McGlinchey. I think it is fair to say that a win over even a past his best Wattana would be a career high. Recommended – Wattana. RESULT WATTANA 10-6.

Matthew Selt v Thepchaiya Un Nooh

I have no strong opinion on this and it is quite an even match but I’d predict a close Selt victory. RESULT SELT 10-8.

Stephen Rowlings v Sam Baird

Sam Baird - Behind on his homework

Rowlings throws in the odd win here and there but young Sam will be mightily encouraged by his recent performance in the China Open. This included a cracking win over Ian McCulloch with centuries thrown in. Assuming that he will improve further, I’d expect Sam to come through this one and be home in time to finish his maths homework. Recommended – Baird. RESULT – Baird 10-6.

Lee Spick 1 v Joe Jogia 0

No strong opinion on this journeyman match up. Jogia should walk round with a timeform squiggle on his waistcoat as he is so inconsistent. But Spick has developed a nasty losing habit since a good run in last year’s world championship where he reached the last 64 before bowing out to the Nugget followed by a decent winning run in the subsequent Shanghai Masters. This one might be very close but I’d marginally favour Jogia. RESULT JOGIA 10-8.

Nappodol Sangil 0 v Michael White 1

There is no reason to suspect that the promising Welsh youngster White will struggle here. A 5-1 win over the same opponent in November should be enough for him to go into this with a bit of confidence. Sanghil is on a long losing streak and White is a kid on the up and has had a warm-up match to prepare him for this. Recommended – White. RESULT SANGHIL 10-9.

Bjorn Haneveer v Jordan Brown

As you’ll have read Belgian Bjorn is another that I think might just surprise a few this week, his odds scream ‘Take a Chance on Me’. I don’t see any way that he will lose this match but he has more difficult ones to follow, when he might finally face his Waterloo. His win over Matthew Stevens recently is probably the win of his career so far, a kind of super trouper moment for him, but that’s the name of the game. I see no reason why he can’t kick on from that and as with each of these games, the winner takes it all. Recommended – Haneveer RESULT HANEVEER – 10-9.

Bjorn should not need an SOS just yet

Patrick Wallace 1 v Mark Boyle 0

The last time these two met was a 9-0 whitewash in November to Wallace. Paddy is a capable player and has mixed with the best in the past. A whitewash is not something you forget and on that alone you have to say Wallace is a good thing here. This will be the match that decides who faces Jimmy White in the next round. Recommended – Wallace RESULT: BOYLE 10-7, he forgot the whitewash and now faces Jimmy.

Li Hang v David Hogan

Hang has been hanging with and beating better company than this. Hogan to me seems a little out of his depth in the professional ranks and I can’t see him turning it around here. Recommended – Hang. RESULT Hogan 10-9.

Xiao Guodong v Tony Drago

Probably the match of the first round proper. Drago is flying at the moment and his return to the professional game has been something of a revelation. He has lost just 3 of his 15 matches so far this season including his final frame defeat to Ryan Day in the Welsh Open. But Guodong is a consistent performer lower down the ranks and doesn’t turn in stinking performances. This could be close but you have to just favour Drago given that he is on the crest of a wave at the moment and will be looking to better his ranking for next season even more. On the one year list he is currently just outside the top 32. RESULT: DRAGO 10-9

Snooker Player and Adrian Chiles Lookalike, Chris 'The Strawberry' Norbury

Mei Xizen v Chris Norbury

This is a real bottom of the pile encounter, round our way these two would be politely termed ‘binmen’. I think I can safely say that neither of these two will be troubling Rob Walker’s MC skills in April, which will be a relief given the second name of one of them – he’d have trouble coming up with a rhyme for that one, I mean, what rhymes with Norbury? Strawberry perhaps? (Rob stares into the camera excitedly and bawls ‘They call him the Strawberry – it’s Chris Norbury’ to a delighted crowd, some of whom can be seen clearly saying to the person next to them, Who?). Expect a plethora of 20 and 30 breaks, nervy missed pots and loose safeties, this one may well finally see off the ricketty World Snooker scoreboard with all the whoosing and k-nicking it will produce. My advice, stay away. Impossible to call and not one to bet on. I’ve just tossed a coin, Norbury. RESULT: Xizen 10-4 – why was Norbury 1/3 for this by the way?

Craig Steadman 1 v Anda Zhang 0

A 5-2 win last August for Steadman who seems to be one who is improving slightly and finding his feet at this level. By all accounts he also performed quite well at the recent Pro-Challenge event in Liverpool. Zhang has a rather odd pattern when it comes to winning and losing he seems to win two then lose two and so it goes on. He has lost his last two so anyone that believes in sequences would have him as a certainty for this, but I’m going to go with the improving youngster Steadman to break the pattern. Recommended – Steadman. RESULT: ANDA 10-4, the shrewd sequence backers are on him next round!

Matthew Couch 2 v Brendan O’Donoghue 0

Nothing would suggest anything other than a Couch win here. He mixes in better circles than this and Brendan is a player that again is struggling at this level, with only a win over The Strawberry and after yesterday, veteran Nic Barrow under his belt as a pro. Recommended – Couch. RESULT: O’Donoghue 10-8.

Ben Woollaston 2 v Andrew Norman 0

The head to heads include a 5-0 whitewash in the February China Open Qualifying. Norman’s record is poor, make no mistake. Woollaston should win this very easily. Recommended – Woollaston. RESULT: WOOLLASTON 10-5.

Atthasit Mahhitti v Jimmy Robertson

Another potential drubbing on the cards here. Robertson mixes in superior circles to this and is provisionally a top 5player on the one year list. His Thai opponent and owner of the name with the most double letters in it that I can recall, is not a quality player. Robertson should book his place in the next round with ease and may be a dark horse in this and could well end up playing Jamie Cope at the end of things. Recommended – Robertson. RESULT: ROBERTSON  10-4.

Simon Bedford v Ian Preece

Despite an uncharacteristic decent run in the Welsh Open Preece is languishing in the doldrums at a provisional number 93. Bedford is no world beater either but he doesn’t seem to lose to players around his ranking as often as he beats them, he is just a tier up from Preece in my book and I’d tentatively have him winning this. RESULT: BEDFORD 10-4

One night in Bangkok - but nice of Dave to sign them for the nurses.

Daniel Wells v David Gray

Potentially another high quality encounter between the promising youngster Wells and the wasted talent that is David ‘White Pants’Gray. It’s difficult to know what will happen here, Gray is still capable of beating players way above him in the rankings while Daniel is learning his trade, but does need a couple of wins in this as he isn’t having a great season, despite a recent run in the Pro-Challenge, but this is where it counts. I expect this to be very close and is tough to call but I just think that perhaps Gray’s experience may tell in the end and leave the young Welshman disappointed. RESULT: GRAY 10-7

Having been frantically looking to get a bet on this morning it’s disappointing to find that only SportingBet have the courage to price most of these up. Snooker punters are really up against it at the moment. It’s really up to you what you want to do here but an accumulator at a shade over 9/2 consists of Robertson, Hang, Wallace, Haneever, Watanna and Wollaston. If you add Steadman it pays just over 9/1 and for the brave and foolish if you add young Sam Baird to this it pays around 15/1 (I have). Any combination of these should see you right unless you get too ambitious. For single only punters, the 5/6 on Steadman looks too good to miss as does the 8/15 on Robertson.

That’s it for the first lot. I’ll endeavour to put more previews and inane ramblings up as the next 10 days or so roll on.

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