GLASWEGIAN John Lardner failed to join snooker's big shots in round three of the #500,000 Liverpool Victoria UK championship last night after a 6-4 defeat by Londoner David Gray.

World No.72 Lardner was full of confidence after recovering from 3-1 down to beat Birmingham's Wayne Saidler 6-3 in his opening game in Bournemouth, but it was Gray who clinched a meeting with Welshman Darren Morgan and partially atoned for the loss of his Benson & Hedges Championship title to Ali Carter last week.

Ironically, Gray can still dream of capturing snooker's second most important ranking event whereas Carter is already back home in Essex.

The 20-year-old discovery of the season crashed to a 6-3 defeat against Bristol's Gary Ponting, who succeeded where 15 others, including world champion Stephen Hendry, had failed in the past month.

It was only Carter's second defeat since arriving at the Grand Prix, where he reached the semi-finals before losing to John Higgins. He then won the B & H championship at Malvern, but Ponting finally has stopped his run.

World No.1 Higgins will begin his UK title defence on Thursday against countryman David McLellan. The 29-year-old Glaswegian reached the last 64 thanks to a 6-4 victory over Welshman Mark Bennett.

Craig MacGillivray, from Edinburgh, went down 6-3 to Craig Harrison, but 18-year-old Scot Stephen Maguire came from 5-3 down to beat Stefan Mazrocis 6-5.

Martin Dziewialtowski, from Glasgow, knocked out Derby's Munraj Pal 6-2 but exiled Scot Hugh Abernethy, now living in Kent, suffered a 6-5 loss to former European Open champion Tony Jones.