THERE were mixed fortunes for Accrington's snooker aces as they looked to book a April date at the World Championships at the Crucible.
Shokat Ali saw off the challenge of Paul Davies 10-6 in his first qualifying round at Prestatyn on Wednesday and will now take on Joe Swail.
If he gets through that, the 35-year-old, ranked 52 in the world, will face one more game and could then be lining up alongside the snooker greats in Sheffield.
But for rising star Chris Norbury it was disappointing as he lost to Joe Delaney 10-6 in his first qualifier - a player he had never competed against before - and was always playing catch up, trailing 6-3 at the break.
The 19-year-old had been hoping to seal a place at the Crucible in April and make it a double celebration as he is an Accrington Stanley fan and he is cheering the Conference table toppers on to a place in the Football League.
He has taken time out of practising to watch around seven Stanley home games this season. "They are pulling away at the top now so I hope it continues," he said.
But Norbury has got plenty more chances in the top snooker competitions after turning professional last year and he is only in his first year on the main tour. And it has been a mixed start so far for him.
He began the snooker year as provisionally number 82 in the world and enjoyed great success in his first major tournament, the Grand Prix in Preston, knocking out former world number three James Wattana. He went out in the next round to Jamie Cope but enjoyed his first taste of the big-time.
However, things haven't gone as well over the last two months with the former Moorhead High School pupil admitting: "I had a bad November where I went out of a few tournaments and because of that, I have had an eight week lay off. I have kept practising but you would prefer to be playing matches."
So last Sunday, to get some match practise in, he competed in the Under 21 Grand Finals in Leicestershire - a competition he played in before he turned pro. And he starred, crushing English Amateur Champion David Grace 3-0 in the final.
He made breaks of 74, 92 and 65 to win the coveted trophy in Coalville but in an earlier round, ex-England Junior captain Norbury made a break of 120 - and is kicking himself he didn't go on to give himself a chance of 147.
"I missed a blue and I should have potted it. I was gutted." said Norbury. "I am on the professional tour now but it was good to go back and compete in the Grand Finals. In the final, in the three games, I broke over 60 each time so it was good."
Now Chris is concentrating on the Welsh Open later on this month.
"Fortunately, when March arrives, the tournaments start coming thick and fast again.
"It is my first year and I have gone up from 82 in the world to 77 so that is improvement so I have got to be happy with that. I have just got to keep making the step forward."