Ken Doherty suffered an agonising final-frame defeat to Ashley Carty to bow out at snooker's Championship League last night.

World number 83 Carty beat Neil Robertson and then Dubliner Doherty in dramatic fashion to progress to the second phase.

Carty shocked Robertson to win the day's opening match 3-1, before drawing 2-2 with Kurt Maflin, who had lost his first game 3-1 to Doherty.

When Robertson then drew 2-2 with the 1997 World Champion, it meant that the group’s final clash, Doherty v Carty, would be decisive.

The Ranelagh man needed a win, while a draw would be enough for Carty unless his opponent topped his group-high break of 87.

Carty took the first two frames edge towards the next stage, but Doherty rolled back the years with a masterful 90 break to pull the match back to 2-1. That meant the draw was then enough for the 1997 World Champion; whoever won the final frame would progress.

The fourth frame brought drama too. With one red left and Carty 21 ahead, the Yorkshireman made a fine long red under pressure but missed the green, leaving Doherty needing one snooker and the colours to take the frame. However, when Carty fluked a brown with his opponent in search of that required snooker, the match was over.

"I am over the moon," said Carty, who will face Gary Wilson, Luca Brecel and Mark Joyce in the next round.

"I got off to a really good start against Neil, quite surprisingly beat him. I know I am capable on my day but fortunately for me he struggled.

"I should have beaten Maflin really, I had a few good chances, and then against Ken I was in shreds towards the end. I don’t know how I missed the green but fortunately for me it didn’t matter."

Robertson admitted the event, which is being played behind closed doors amid strict social distancing protocols, presents motivational issues despite the long break from competition.

Robertson said: "It would be very strange to play in this format for an actual [bigger] event, so that's where the adjustment is going to take place.

"But playing in this I am perfectly happy to experiment and adjust to how we are going to be moving forward over the next couple of months.

"Probably under normal circumstances one month into the season I would have won the first three frames pretty comfortably. There's a little bit of rustiness but it's just about getting used to the feeling of how it is."

Robertson, who has been an outspoken advocate of mental health issues in recent years, said he had not been inclined to follow the example of Alfie Burden, who took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement before his own appearance in the tournament last week.

Robertson added: "I fully support Alfie and the anti-racism protesters but I think people need to have a look at the full picture and really understand what they are doing.

"People need to make sure they are not doing it just because they haven't been out of the house for three months.

"It hasn't been a great week outside of sport, there's a lot going on in the world so in some ways it was nice to get out there and play a little bit of snooker."

Meanwhile Barry Hawkins topped Group 16 with seven points and advanced to join a winners’ phase group which also includes Judd Trump, David Gilbert and Ryan Day.

'The Hawk’ won each of his first two matches 3-0 - against Hammad Miah and Craig Steadman - meaning a draw against Anthony McGill would be enough.

The Glaswegian had also beaten Miah but had drawn the group opener against Steadman, meaning he required three points to advance.

Hawkins took the first frame but McGill hit back with a 107.

Hawkins, though, only needed one more frame and he got it in the third to book a return to Milton Keynes on Wednesday.

Action continues today with the final first-phase Groups. Northern Ireland's Mark Allen, Martin O’Donnell, Michael White and Nigel Bond are in Group 11 action on table one while Ali Carter, Matt Selt, Sam Craigie and Dominic Dale will feature on table two in Group 6.