SNOOKER: Craig Steadman impressed in qualifying for the Welsh Snooker Open last week — and broke the bank at the same time.

The 27-year-old Farnworth ace won his first two matches against Sam Baird and David Roe before losing 5-3 to the in-form Rory McLeod.

However the ranking points gained from two victories will prove important at the end of the season, as will the prize money Steadman will pocket for recording the week’s highest break.

The local lad shot 143 on his way to a 5-3 victory to underline his growing confidence.

“It was nice to get that extra prize money,” said Steadman. “I played well during the week and just ran into a good player.

“McLeod won the qualifying event for the Masters and also went through in the UK Championships so he is playing well at the moment and, when you play the better players, little mistakes become magnified.

“But I was pleased with how things went generally. It was strange playing Sam because he is one of my good friends on the tour.

“I have got him in the first round of qualifying for the China Open next month as well.”

Steadman could play former winner John Parrott for a place in the World Championships, and the former Harper Green School pupil is aiming to spring an upset.

“I would play him in the second round if I win my first match,” he said. “I have never played him before and you never know with these people how they are going to play.

“They have lots of other commitments with stuff like TV work, and some may not have played much snooker recently.

“But players like that never forget how to play the game.

“It would be a big scalp for me, but I have a few more games to contend with first.”

Steadman is into the semi-finals of an invitational event in Earlestown this weekend before he heads to a tournament in Helsinki on February 10. Qualifiers for the China Open follow before the World Championships kick off on February 25.

He is slowly rising up the world rankings and currently stands at number 66 after beginning the season around 20 places below. Should his progress continue, he is sure to remain on the professional tour for a second campaign.