ENGLISH under-16 champion Mark Lloyd takes a one-point lead over title rival Brad Chappell into the last leg of the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour.
The 16-year-old from Gosport defeated Chappell 3-1 in the final of the seventh event at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon.
Lloyd broke down on a run of 61 in the fourth frame with a century beckoning.
“I just felt I was cueing well when I needed to get through the matches,” he said. “I found something in the end though, having an opportunity for a century in the last but I missed a black on 60 odd. The balls were ideal.”
Lloyd admitted it was a “shame” to have missed the fourth leg in Bournemouth in January because of the European Under-17 Open in Malta, which he won. But he added: “I’m pleased that I’m still in the title race.”
Poole-based Chappell, 21, who shared the title with Lloyd in 2013/14 and won it outright last season, will bow out of junior events following Finals Day in Swindon on May 15.
Reece King (Bournemouth) recorded the day’s highest break of 64. Playing in only his third Cuestars event, Arron Smith (Chichester) chalked up a personal best competitive break of 41.
While only the top two can win the title, the battle for third place is hotting up. Beaten quarter-finalist Callum Browne (Trowbridge) leads James Budd (Fareham) and Bradley Cowdroy (Bournemouth) by six points. Anthony Rice (Fordingbridge) and Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford) are three points further back in joint sixth. Jonny Mutch (Cambridge), who lost 2-1 to Lloyd in the semi-finals, is another six points further back.
The eighth and final leg is at Chandler’s Ford Snooker Club on Sunday, May 1.
Reece King: 64.
Mark Lloyd: 61, 55.
Brad Chappell: 56, 54, 42.
Callum Browne: 47.
Anthony Rice: 42, 42.
Arron Smith: 41.
Mickey Joyce: 40.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Jonny Mutch (WT’s Sports Bar, Cambridge); 2nd, Reece King (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Arron Smith (Selsey RBL); 5th, Mickey Joyce (Chandler’s Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Mark Lloyd (Stoke SC, Gosport); 2nd, Callum Browne (Player’s, Westbury); 3rd, James Budd (Fareham SC); 4th, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); scratched, Callum McDonald (Salisbury SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Brad Chappell (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 2nd, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Jamie Wilson (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Mike Trigg (Chandler’s Ford SC).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Chappell 2 King 0, Mutch 2 Budd 0, Lloyd 2 Rice 0, Sykes 2 Browne 0.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Lloyd 2 Mutch 1, Chappell 2 Sykes 0.
FINAL (£45/£20 25/18 points): Lloyd 3 Chappell 1. Frame scores, Lloyd first: 64-45, 1-74(56), 62-32, 78(61)-42(42).Main picture by Kevin White: Chloe White, who reached her first final on the Bronze Tour, and boyfriend Mark Lloyd.
Report and picture by Tim Dunkley