GWENT’S Mark Williams admits he’ll have to play a lot better to win his first ManBetX Welsh Open snooker title in 21 years, but he’s happy to be through to the last 32 in Cardiff.

Three-time world champion Williams was made to work hard to beat Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown, fighting back from 2-1 down to edge 3-2 ahead, winning on the last black in a fifth frame that lasted 41 minutes, before wrapping up a 4-2 win.

The Cwm potter was the last home winner of the tournament back in 1999 and he’s not overly confident of lifting the trophy again this weekend.

“I was a little bit fortunate to get through,” said Williams.

“He missed an absolute sitter of a green to go 3-2 up and it could have been totally different but I stuck in there well and managed to play a good last frame.

“I’m over the moon just to get through. It’s really difficult to win when you’re not playing well and I’ve got through two matches thanks to a bit of experience and with a bit of luck on my side.”

Williams will take on Scotland’s Anthony McGill in round three and he expects a tough test against the world number 37.

“I’ll have to raise my game to beat anybody,” he added.

“My form in practice has been really good, but I just can’t seem to drag it out on the match table.

“It’s frustrating because it is there and it’s bursting to get out, I just can’t get it out.”

Williams’ win completed a good day for the home hopes at the Motorpoint Arena, with Matthew Stevens, Daniel Wells and Dominic Dale also progressing.

Stevens beat Brandon Sargeant 4-0 with breaks of 114 in the first frame and 86 in the third but he’s keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“I’m pleased with my performance,” said the Carmarthen-born former World Championship finalist.

“I’m into the last 32 but I’m not getting carried away.

“I’m just happy that I’ve won a couple of matches and it gives the Welsh fans something to shout about.

“We say it every year,” he added. “Mark’s obviously won the tournament a few times but for the past God-knows-how-many-seasons we haven’t done that well.

“It would be nice for one of us to progress to the final stages.

“I want to win every tournament, but obviously this one would be special.”

Neath potter Wells beat Ashley Carty 4-2, while Dale beat Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg 4-2 after rushing through his match so he could take his place as a pundit on BBC Wales.

“I started looking at my watch and I thought ‘crikey, I’m in the studio at 1pm’ so I was either going to win quick or lose quick,” said the 48-year-old.

“I was really indifferent to whether I won or lost and I started playing really well. I played four great frames and I don’t know what my shot-time was, but it would have been pretty quick.

“I’m pleased and if I can carry that sort of form into the next round, I think I can be dangerous.”

Asked about a potential Welsh winner this week, Dale said: “It’s been 21 years. It doesn’t seem that long since Mark won it last.

“But we’ve got some great Welsh players coming through.

“We’ll see what happens with the future of Welsh snooker, but it could be good.”