Accies web reporter Mark Gillespie with Saturday’s details…
Foys Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday 14th September 2019, 12noon kick off
Hamilton Academical 0 Celtic 1
In the end, James Forrest’s early strike was all that mattered to secure the points and maintain the visitors’ 100% league record. It was the worst possible start, but the champions weren’t to see everything their own way in the day’s early kick off.
A resolute Accies were in the game right until the final whistle. It was a much improved performance after the break, but we just couldn’t find the magic touch to pinch something from the game.
Brian Rice was pleased by his side’s response after falling behind so early.
“To lose an early goal is criminal, but the response I got was immense. It’s easy to fall apart, but everybody did the job I asked.”, he said post-match.
“We stuck by one other and kept to the game plan. We frustrated Celtic after the goal, stayed in the game and tried to give it a go in the second half.”
“I’ve given Lewis Smith a platform today and if he carries on like this he’s got a real chance. Right now he’s where Ryan Christie was when I was at Inverness. It’s down to him. Right now he’s enjoying it and I enjoy watching him.”
Accies were without the injured Aaron McGowan as we made two changes to the side from a fortnight ago. George Oakley was the lone striker with Ogkmpoe starting on the bench. Shaun Want returned at wing back, with new signing Adrian Beck on the bench.
Celtic likewise made two changes from victory at Ibrox a fortnight ago, both injury enforced, as Bitton and Johnston dropped out to be replaced by Ajer and Elyounoussi making his first start.
The on loan striker almost made an instant impact virtually from kick off. Celtic swept forward and his shot was beaten away by Fon Williams.
The visitors were looking sharp and it only delayed the opener by another two minutes.The danger came down the left, with Elyounoussi turning provider to set up James Forrest to tap home at the front post.
It looked a case of weathering the early storm, but it didn’t come. Celtic dominated possession and kept up the pressure without creating too much. Accies maintained shape and concentration under waves of attack, without providing much at the other end for George Oakley to work with.
Chances were few and far between, but Fon Williams was called into action five minutes after the break, tipping a 20-yard Forrest effort onto his own bar.
It was better from Accies though in the second half, as we made Celtic work and denied space through the middle
There were glimmers of hope. Celtic lost their momentum and Accies tried to capitalise with positive substitutions. Gogic headed an Alston free kick wide on 56 minutes, before sub Marios Ogkmpoe almost pounced on a loose defensive ball, Forster clinging on at the second opportunity.
Alston fired over from the edge of the box on 70 minutes after linking up with Will Collar, with Ogkmpoe sent clear three minutes later but flashing his shot well wide of goal.
The big striker was agonizingly close from connecting with a McMann cross in injury time. In the end Accies just couldn’t find the big chance to make a difference as the champions hung on for the points.
We stay in eighth spot ahead of next weekend’s visit to St Mirren Park.
Accies: Fon Williams, McMann, Fjortoft (Beck, 70), Collar, Oakley (Ogkmpoe, 52) Alston, Gogic, Want (McKenna, 77), Easton (c), Stubbs, L Smith; Subs Unused: Southwood, Cunningham, MacKinnon, Moyo
Bookings: Fjortoft, 44, Gogic, 84
Celtic: Forster, Jullien, Brown, Christie (Hayes, 90+1), Edouard (Bayo, 77), Bolingoli, Elyounoussi (Rogic, 67), El Hamed, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest; Subs Unused: Gordon, Griffiths, Bauer, Ntcham
Goal: Forrest, 3
Referee: Don Robertson; Assistants:David McGeachie and Alastair Mather; Fourth Official: Steven Reid