UK Championship: Joe Swail beats Michael Holt 6-1

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport at the Barbican Centre, York
Joe Swail could play fellow Northern Irishman Mark Allen in the last 16
Joe Swail has reached the semi-finals of the World Championship on two occasions

Joe Swail was surprised by the ease of his victory after beating Michael Holt 6-1 to book his place in the fourth round of the UK Championship.

The veteran Belfast man took the first frame in confident fashion and, despite losing a tight second frame, two half-century breaks saw him lead 3-1.

Swail, who could face fellow countryman and close friend Mark Allen in the last 16, eased to victory as Holt struggled.

"It was a surprisingly one-sided win tonight," Swail, 46, told BBC Sport.

Recent UK Championship finals
2014: Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 10-9 Judd Trump (Eng)
2013: Neil Robertson (Aus) 10-7 Mark Selby (Eng)
2012: Mark Selby (Eng) 10-6 Shaun Murphy (Eng)

"He didn't seem to be at the races. But fair play to him. He wished me all the best."

The two-time World Championship semi-finalist brushed aside Joel Walker and Adam Duffy on his way to the last 32 and he replicated his fine form from the off against Nottingham's Holt.

Having deservedly led 3-1 at the mid-session interval, Swail eventually won a scrappy fifth frame in which both men wasted a couple of good chances.

At 4-1 up, Swail, whose best run at the UK Championship came with a quarter-final appearance 23 years ago, wrapped up the win with minimum fuss.

"Everything has just come back together for me," he added. "I am playing with a smile on my face and I don't really care if I win or lose. I am not putting pressure on myself.

"If I miss so what? I am enjoying it.

"It would be great to for Northern Ireland if I play Mark Allen but he has a tough match against Martin Gould."

Swail will face Allen in round four if the Antrim man can beat Londoner Gould in the third round on Tuesday afternoon.

Holt admitted he once again struggled to deal with the pressure as he progressed deeper into one of the snooker's biggest events.

"I missed and he potted balls and that was it really," the world number 26 said.

"I am playing really well. But it's not rocket science. I keep getting to the television stages and I'll leave it with you. It's self-explanatory."