David Gilbert blasted Rory McLeod for intimidating the referee and hit back at claims he lacked integrity after losing a heated first round battle at the English Open, writes Will Jennings.
World No.13 Gilbert went down 4-2 at the Marshall Arena but that tells far from the whole story as the pair became embroiled in a controversial fourth-frame exchange.
Referee Mark King decided not to award McLeod a free ball, a call questioned by the world No.113 but supported by 2019 World Championship semi-finalist Gilbert.
And that prompted a verbal bust-up between the pair that ended in Gilbert fuming ‘what, do you think I’m cheating?’ to McLeod live on camera.
Gilbert slammed McLeod’s intimidatory behaviour and his accusations of cheating at a fiery first Home Nations event of the season.
Kicking off a bit in Gilbert v McLeod.— Phil Haigh (@philhaigh_) October 13, 2020
Rory insists it's a free ball, ref says no. McLeod asks for another ref or tournament director to check but is refused.
Gilbert says it's no free ball.
RM: 'David, I expect more from you mate.'
DG: 'What, do you think I'm cheating?' pic.twitter.com/Uo1u81lsRt
“He tries to be intimidating all the time but it wasn’t a free ball and that was that - the ref called it right,” fumed the 39-year-old.
“He didn’t intimidate me but he tried to put the pressure on the ref but the ref called it right.
“He said to me he was disappointed in me - he obviously wanted me to agree with him and I would have agreed with him if I thought he was right.
“I’m not a cheat in any kind of way - Rory tries borderline with pretty much everything at times but it wasn’t a free ball so I couldn’t agree with him.
“That’s the end of it - there’s no problem on my behalf and if he wants to have the hump, that’s up to him.
“I think he’s bang out of order for saying that [I lacked integrity] but I’m not too bothered either.
"I think everybody knows that he’s pretty close to the limits sometimes - he’s always commenting, always tutting, tapping and takes so long over such basic shots.”
Gilbert stormed into a 2-0 lead before McLeod, snooker’s only black professional player, went on to clinch four frames on the spin to advance to the second round.
And that extended Gilbert's miserable run of form that also saw him shocked by qualifier Kurt Maflin in the first round of the World Championship.
McLeod, who brought the 2019 Crucible semi-finalist's sportsmanship and integrity into question during the fiesty match, hit back at Gilbert’s claims he was intimidatory and blasted his opponent for lacking etiquette.
“It was clearly a free ball - I asked Dave to come round and have a look and he just flat refused to,” said McLeod, 49.
“I’ve known Dave a long time but the etiquette he had in that match, not just in that incident, was horrendous.
“I’ve never known him to be like that ever. It was just bad manners - we’re all out there wanting to play matches and play well but we don’t need bad manners, do we?
“I haven’t got issues with David now - it’s just the situation could have been dealt with a lot better by all parties.
“Why would I try and intimidate him? That’s just not my way - it’s not like I was intimidating anybody.
“I push the line and get away with whatever I can? Did he explain how I was pushing that line? It’s not really good to put the mic in front of a person who’s just got beat.
"I don’t try and push the line and anything and I’m as fair as they come, you can just look at my history and you can see that."