ALAN McManus hit Ken Doherty with an early barrage in their ‘golden oldie’ showdown at the Dafabet World Championship on Friday.
But the 43-year-old from Glasgow was pegged back by the 1997 world champion and will take a slender 4-3 lead into today’s morning and evening sessions at the Crucible in Sheffield.
There was a tremendous reception for the two veterans as they were introduced by MC Rob Walker and walked down the famous steps and into the arena.
McManus enjoyed most of his own finest Crucible moments in the 1990s but has experienced a small renaissance in the past 18 months.
The 43-year-old reached the semi-finals in both 1992 and 1993, and also won the Masters and two ranking titles in a golden spell of his career.
But this encounter had taken on the aspect of a decennial match given the past two meetings between the two in Sheffield.
Back in 1994 it was Doherty who came out on top 13-11 at the same stage of the event, and in 2005 McManus prevailed by the same score, and again at the same stage.
The exchanges were always unlikely to be fast and furious between two such experienced tacticians and so it proved.
The pair still in frame six while Ronnie O’Sullivan had finished eight on the other table – with the Rocket trailing 9-7 ahead of this morning’s concluding frames.
Doherty took the first but was then hit by a four-frame streak from McManus who made breaks of 69, 107 and 71. It the Scot’s first century at the Crucible since 2005 – bizarrely a 107 against the Irishman in their match.
The marathon sixth frame took fully 46 minutes – but crucially Doherty got back in the game by eventually tucking it away, and added the next to close to 4-3 adrift before the players were hauled a frame early with the 7pm evening session looming.
Photographs by Monique Limbos