ALAN McManus ended Mark Williams’ hopes of extending his long unbroken run of appearances at the Crucible with a 10-8 win at Ponds Forge on Tuesday night.
The 43-year-old Scot is a two-time former semi-finalist at the World Championship and enjoying a second wind in his career.
And in a tense encounter with both men below their best it was McManus who held his nerve and ensured his name will be in Thursday’s first-round draw.
But it was a big blow for the 39-year-old Welshman Williams, who has featured at the final stages of the World Championship for the past 17 years.
McManus was quick to say he would love to draw one of the two fellow Scots – John Higgins or Stephen Maguire – in the first round when the names are pulled out on Thursday lunchtime.
He said: “Mark is a good scalp, I was patchy but in the end probably I missed a few less balls than he did. It was a hard game, as these fin al qualifiers always are.
“It had been so long since I played at the Crucible before last year, and now it’s like buses – two in two years and I am back there again.
“I just want to put on a decent performance there. I actually went to the Crucible yesterday and sat in the arena for five minutes.
“I thought about this match, and that hopefully I would be back here playing. I have some history there, and it is the best place to play – and the worst at times.
“As a more senior player you do take it in more because every year is a bonus, every chance to play in these places.
“And I would actually like to draw one of the two Scots in the top 16, John Higgins or Stephen Maguire.
“For me that would be a special match and occasion, they are both friends and it would be something for Scotland to enjoy.”
Another former world champion Ken Doherty had a better day – coming through 10-5 against Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng to seal a 19th Crucible appearance.
Irishman Doherty, 44, enjoyed his finest hour in snooker in 1997 when he won his only world title at the Crucible – and this year will be the oldest competitor.
He said: “I am just so pleased to be back there. This is the toughest match, this final qualifier, one of the hardest when you see people like Graeme Dott struggling.
“It is because it means so much and you want to be part of the tournament as a player, there is so much pressure, it is so nerve-racking. But I started to play like the old ‘Crafty Ken’.
“I lost 10-9 last year, and have lost 10-6 to Jimmy Robertson after being 6-3 up losing seven in a row, so these final qualifiers are hard.
“At least once you are there you are part of it, and I am over the moon and looking forward to the draw on Thursday. But I never thought I would be the oldest player!”
Dominic Dale beat Andrew Higginson 10-6, while Dave Gilbert saw off Jimmy Robertson by the same score.