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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 23:28 GMT
Higgins forced to battle in Malta
John Higgins
Higgins was forced into another brave fightback
John Higgins staged a remarkable fightback to secure his place in round two of the Malta Cup on Monday.

The new Masters champion battled back from 4-2 down to edge Robert Milkins 5-4 and tee up a clash with fellow Scot Alan McManus in the last 16.

McManus had earlier beaten Ali Carter 5-2 while Welshman Dominic Dale saw off England's Paul Hunter 5-3.

Ulster teenager Mark Allen won his wildcard game with Joe Grech and now faces world champion Shaun Murphy.

In the other wildcard match, Finland's Robin Hull rattled in a break of 126 as he beat Simon Zammit 5-2.

Milkins led 50-0 in the eighth frame against Higgins but missed a black with a good chance to complete a 5-3 victory.

And Higgins, who only eight days ago edged out Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9 on the final black to triumph at Wembley, won the frame on the blue and clinched the decider in Portomaso.

"When things are going well for you then the little bits of luck tend to go your way and that's what happened," he said.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Allen has already done enough to keep his place for another year on the circuit but is still eager to pull off a first round upset against Murphy.

"Shaun likes to go for his shots and he can't keep potting them so I know I'll get chances," said the 19-year-old.

"There won't be many, though, so I'll have to make the most of what comes my way."

There will be an all-Irish showdown in the first round with Belfast's Joe Swail up against Dubliner Ken Doherty.

Kent-based Northern Ireland player Gerard Greene starts his bid against Welshman Mark Williams.

Local favourite Tony Drago delighted his fans by beating Pakistan's Shokat Ali 5-2 in their qualifying tie and must now beat Barry Pinches to take his place in the first-round draw.

Malta Cup scores & order of play
30 Jan 06 |  Snooker
Higgins claims Masters thriller
23 Jan 06 |  Snooker
No rest for world champion Allen
06 Dec 04 |  Snooker

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