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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Young Craigie starting to fulfil potential

Matthew Stevens looks a vulnerable favourite against Hammad Miah
1 of 1

Day three
From 9.30am Thursday

Sam Craigie showed what he was all about when reaching the fourth round of the Northern Ireland Open last week and the heavy-scoring youngster can deliver another potting masterclass to send Andrew Higginson packing in the Betway UK Championship.

The 24-year-old had two centuries and two 80-plus contributions when springing a surprise against world number 15 Kyren Wilson in his Belfast opener and he proved that was no fluke by upsetting Ben Woollaston, making frame-winning breaks of 76, 75 and 70.

Craigie has always promised much more than he has delivered in his career but time is still on his side and his performances in Belfast suggest he’s a player coming to the fore.

The Geordie cueman thumped Mark King 6-2 in the opening round 12 months ago before losing to the talented Luca Brecel in a last-64 decider, having been 5-3 ahead.

Craigie should have learned plenty from that experience and could outscore an out-of-sorts Higginson, who has been a first-round casualty in three of his last five tournaments.

High-quality performances from Matthew Stevens have been few and far between recently and punters should take a chance that he has an off day against the capable Hammad Miah.

The Welshman's last three matches have seen him whitewashed by Brecel (5-0) and Mike Dunn (4-0), either side of thumping Leo Fernandez, and he's difficult to trust at short prices.

Miah overcome Tom Ford in the opening round at the Barbican last year before taking Robert Milkins to a decider and he's the sort of opponent who may frustrate a confidence-damaged Stevens.

S Craigie
2pts 6-5 Coral, Ladbrokes
H Miah +2.5 frames
1pt 4-5 bet365, SkyBet

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Craigie has always promised much more than he has delivered in his career but time is still on his side and he’s a player coming to the fore
E.W. Terms
Sky bet