sport

Carter takes narrow lead

Ali Carter edged ahead of Shaun Murphy after having the better of the opening session in the first semi-final at the UK Championship.

In an all-English last-four line-up at York's Barbican Centre, which will also see Mark Selby take on Mark Davis on , the clash between Carter and Murphy was expected to be close.

That remained a distinct possibility, ahead of a 7pm resumption, but Carter, who was talking of retirement at this time last year, could be happy with his afternoon's work and an advantage of 5-3.

He led 4-2, but once Murphy clipped that advantage to a single frame it made the next one both men were desperate for.

That partially explained why they took 47 minutes over it, but once Murphy ploughed the penultimate red off the table he needed snookers.

And Carter made sure of his handy cushion by firing in the next red, meaning he needed four frames tonight to reach Sunday's title match.

There had been a minor drama earlier in the frame when Murphy, put in a snooker behind the yellow by Carter, failed to hit his intended red and questioned Leo Scullion's call of a 'miss', snooker parlance meaning the cue ball could be put back.

Carter did ask for the white to go back, and Scullion explained to Murphy, who was content enough with the explanation, that there were easier shots he could have played to locate a red. At the second attempt, Murphy escaped danger, but the frame slipped away.

Carter enjoyed breaks of 77 and 101 in establishing his earlier two-frame leads, while Murphy hit back with 89 and 49.

Carter, who at 33 is three years Murphy's senior, was giving serious thought to a life beyond snooker after his second-round exit in York last year.

Battling Crohn's disease had taken so much out of the Essex man that his game was going off the boil, yet this year saw a turnaround in his health and his snooker fortunes, most notably with his run to the World Championship final where Ronnie O'Sullivan proved too strong.

Carter has a pair of ranking event titles to his name, but this would be the biggest triumph were he to land the UK title.

Murphy, the 2005 world champion, is targeting his second UK title after winning in Telford four years ago.