MARK WILLIAMS reckoned he was lucky to get over the line after holding off a surging comeback from Hamza Akbar in a 6-4 victory on the second day of the Betway UK Championship.

The two-time World and UK Champion raced into a 4-0 lead but Akbar, Pakistan's only professional snooker player, showed much more resolve after the mid-session interval at the York Barbican.

Having been plagued by simple misses early on, he took the fifth frame with a break of 55 and established a 40 point lead in the next before clinching it with a doubled blue into the middle pocket.

Williams looked like he had fought him off when going 5-2 up but Akbar refused to be cowed and reduced the deficit to just a single frame with runs of 76 and 58.

But the Welshman, sitting at 13 in the world rankings, used his experience to go through with a break of 50 and book a second round clash at the weekend with Tom Ford.

The relieved 40-year-old said: "It was looking quite comfortable at one stage and then he started potting a few balls, made a couple of breaks and, all of a sudden, I came under pressure a bit and I suppose at the end I am lucky to get over the line.

"He probably was a bit nervous starting off but he began to play well after the interval. I started missing a few and he came back into it. It was difficult. I was getting a kick every other shot and (balls) flying off the cushions at every other shot.

"I just couldn't control anything while I was in, so it was difficult as well. He made some good breaks. It could easily have gone 5-5 and anything could have happened.

"Even though I was expected to win there, I am just glad I got over the line in the end."

Williams added: "I am lucky because I play the balls and not the player. You get people saying 'you should win that'. What a lot of rubbish that is. I just play the balls and, a lot of the time, the balls were scrappy.

"I started to struggle towards the end, come under pressure, and he started to play well. In all fairness, if you look at the match, I wouldn't be surprised if you said he was the better player. There was nothing in it really.

"I am always the philosopher. What's the worst thing that can happen? You lose and you go home. That's not the end of the world.

"I try 100 per cent (but) even if I had lost 6-5, so what? I would have been driving down the road and, by the time I had got out of York, it would have been forgotten and I wouldn't worry about it. I am still in."

RICKY WALDEN suffered few alarms as he dispatched Itaro Santos 6-1.

The Chester potter, twice a UK Championship semi-finalist, survived a scrappy opening pair of frames before putting together breaks of 68, 89 and 69 on his way to a comfortable victory over the Brazilian.

Santos enjoyed a main arena highlight when he compiled an effort of 89 to ensure he would not be whitewashed.

Walden, beaten by Mark Allen and Mark Selby in last four clashes at York, said he was pleased to have progressed having suffered opening round defeats this season at the Shanghai Masters and International Championship.

“They are tricky games because, obviously, you are a big favourite and the lads are coming in with nothing to lose,” he explained. “They are good players as well so you have got play the right game, play the right shots and it’s hard to do sometimes out there.

“It’s a different kind of nerves. It is not like a big final. You are just eager to get to six and get under way in the tournament. In those first round games, you always feel a little bit of pressure and all the top seeds are pretty similar.”

Asked about his form, the world number 12 added: “It’s been a bit of a tricky season so far. I’ve not really played in too many things. I have had a couple of first round defeats and I am looking to get something going.

“It’s a lovely venue, great crowds towards the back end of the week and, hopefully, I can be in there. It’s a great city to play in as well.”

Meanwhile Ding Junhui, who was stunned by amateur Adam Duffy on the opening night, has been referred to the disciplinary arm of snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA, for an angry outburst made in the post-match press conference following his shock exit.

Possible punishments could include a fine.