Nov 29 2017

Mark Slater holds his nerve to take Bradford to glory in UK Snooker League

Bradford, who won the UK Snooker League title at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds. From left: Anthony Green, Gareth Green, Josh Walker, Richard Bakes (team manager), Mark Slater, Wayne Cooper

BRADFORD’S snooker team have won the UK Snooker League title after a classic final against Huddersfield.

The five-man Bradford team, whose players ended the weekend ranked one to five overall individually, gave an impressive all-round performance at Leeds’ Northern Snooker Centre.

However, Bradford, who were runners-up two seasons ago, didn’t have things all their own way in the 16-team invitational competition, although they were dominant in the group stages.

They not only finished day one last Saturday unbeaten, but didn’t even drop a frame, defeating Coventry, Newbury, 2015 champions Norwich and defending champions Ormskirk by 5-0.

But, despite winning the opening two frames on Sunday morning, opponents Southport took the remaining three frames to claim a 3-2 victory.

The next match against Thames Valley was just as tough, but this time Bradford edged it 3-2 before finishing the group stages with another 5-0 success, this time against second-placed Torbay.

The top four teams from each of the two divisions went into the knockout stages, which was a race to three frames.

Wayne Cooper and Gareth Green opened proceedings against Nuneaton, with Josh Walker and Anthony Green finishing at a similar time for a 4-0 victory.

Torbay overcame multiple winners West Midlands in their quarter-final to set up a re-match and this time there was no repeat of the 5-0 scoreline, with both teams exchanging frames as the match progressed.

Cooper was successful in his frame, while Gareth Green lost his first frame of the competition.

His brother Anthony Green put Bradford 2-1 up before Josh Walker missed out, but Mark Slater made sure of the victory with a solid performance.

Huddersfield had performed superbly throughout the competition, and although they lost their first match of the groups 5-0 to Leeds, revenge was exacted on the hosts in their semi-final, with a 3-2 black-ball victory setting up an all Yorkshire final.

With both teams having been runners-up before (Huddersfield last season), the final was set to be a classic, and so it proved.

Cooper was as reliable as ever, overcoming Michael Whaley, but Gareth Green could do little about Rob Armitage, who scored heavily when it mattered.

Anthony Green edged his frame against Chris Thorpe, while Trevor Liversedge got the better of Walker to set up a nail-biting last frame between Slater and Jack Ellis-Pownall.

Slater started superbly, opening up a 48-point lead, but, just when it looked like frame and match, an uncharacteristic miss gave Ellis-Pownall a chance which he took, pulling the score closer and seemed to be on course to clear up until missing the pink.

After a few safety exchanges, the chance fell to Slater, who potted the pink the length of the table to win the frame, the match and the title, with it being the first time a Yorkshire team has won the event.

Cooper not only finished as the number one player in the competition, but also making the competition’s highest break of 94.

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