Elliot Slessor blasted the decision to scrap crowds at the Crucible and felt a lack of support undermined his attempt to stage one of snooker’s biggest-ever comebacks. 

The Gateshead potter sank to 7-1 down in the first session of his first round clash with world No.16 Yan Bingtao, a miserable start to his World Championship debut. 

But in a remarkable afternoon session, the 25-year-old won five consecutive frames as Bingtao went to pieces and the score went from 9-2 to 9-7. 

Slessor couldn’t force the Chinese to an 18th frame, which would have taken place in the depths of the night with two scheduled matches unable to be moved, as he lost 10-7. 

The Geordie laid into the government’s decision to halt crowd pilots at sporting events after a spike in infection rates and new restrictions enforced in the north of England. 

“It's difficult without a crowd,” he said.

“I'm a big occasion player and I feel like I play well in front of a crowd. I was absolutely gutted in the first session and not having a crowd affected me.

"There were lots of friends and family asking for tickets and it's a shame, a big shame. I hated that it was empty, to be honest. 

“I feel most sorry for World Snooker, because with the lengths and depths they went to to get it on; it was probably the safest place you could actually go. 

“You've got more chance of catching something if you go to the shops. You see pictures of people in Bournemouth and the beaches are full. 

“I'm not being funny but why isn't Boris (Johnson) pulling that up? 

“You're in a safe, controlled environment here and you can't watch the snooker but you can go to the beach and get absolutely steaming drunk with 50 of your mates. It makes no logical sense to me.”

Matters came to a head in a dramatic 14th frame, when Bingtao potted match-ball green but also potted the black to give Slessor an unlikely olive branch at 9-4. 

It appeared the pressure was telling on the 20-year-old, who accidentally knocked Slessor’s water bottle into his glass causing it to smash into a thousand pieces on the Crucible floor. 

If Slessor had pulled it off it would have been the biggest comeback in living memory, matching Nigel Bond's win from 9-2 down against Cliff Thorburn at the 1994 World Championship. 

The north-east product will have plenty to occupy him in the coming weeks with his wife having given birth to a girl recently and wedding planning in full swing.

“I'm obviously really happy to make my debut,” said Slessor.

“I felt like in the qualifiers I was playing a little bit more like I do in practice. I generally don't do that very often. 

“If I take my practice game into the tournaments, I do alright but it's not as easy as that.

“I’ll go where my missus tells me when it comes to planning the wedding although it’s more complicated now the restrictions have changed.

“I’ve been with her for a long time now and after the baby’s been born, getting married will be the icing on the cake.”

Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16thAugust with analysis from Jimmy White.