Acies media web reporter Mark Gillespie with his take on Sunday’s home defeat by Rangers…
Sunday 24th February, kick off 12.15
HamiltonAcademical 0 Rangers 5
After a very forgettable afternoon we remain second bottom of the table, the gap on St Mirren now four points. We sit level with Dundee but a heavy Accies defeat boosts their goal advantage to seven goals ahead of the midweek fixtures and a testing visit to Pittodrie.
The game was more or less settled within the opening 23 minutes, as Rangers’ rampaged to a three goal lead through goals from Jack, Defoe and Arfield. A Tavernier penalty just before the interval put any doubts to rest, before a late Lafferty strike rounded off a comfortable day for the visitors.
Brian Rice had sent a side out to go toe to toe with Steven Gerrard’s men, but had to change tact in the second half. A disappointed Accies boss gave his thoughts post-match.
“I have to look at myself, the way I set the team up in the first half. I didn’t want to sit in and defend. I wanted to have a go at Rangers. Unfortunately, that didn’t materialise.”
“What disappoints me most is that when we had the ball we weren’t able to look after it. We weren’t brave. Being brave isn’t about smashing someone, it’s about saying give me the ball when there’s somebody on me, and making a proper pass. We never had that bravery today.”
“That is something we’re going to have to work at repeatedly, and if there’s people who can’t do it they won’t be in the team. I want people in my side who can look after the ball. Rangers moved the ball well, but they got it back far too easily today.”
The boss’s positive intent was clear from the off, as 17 year old Reegan Mimnaugh got his first senior start in an attacking formation. It was the only change from last weekend’s side, with Alex Gogic starting on the bench.
Rangers meanwhile made three changes from their cup win in midweek, McGregor returning in goal. Defoe started in place of the suspended Morelos, with Halliday slotting in at left back in place of Barisic.
The visitors cranked the pressure up early, finding themselves in a lot of one on one situations. There was a narrow escape on 11 minutes, as Jack played Defoe clean through on Gary Woods, but the keeper made a solid stop.
The blue tide kept coming, with Accies trying to play an expansive game and sitting off. It was a risky tactic, with Rangers in front six minutes later. Kent cut inside and laid off for Jack 25 yards out, and the midfielder made the most of space and time to curl a low drive past Gary Woods for the opener.
It was 2-0 virtually from kick off, with Rangers finding more pockets off space around the Accies box. This time Tavernier swung in from the right flank for Defoe unmarked to head home the second.
We might have had a quick response, in our solitary first half sight of goal. Mimnaugh got into the box on 20 minutes, but tried to square across when a pop at goal looked the better option. McGregor got down to save.
And it was game, set and match on 23 minutes, as Accies gave away possession on the edge of their own box, Scott Arfield crashing the third past Woods.
Rangers were in cruise control, and extended the lead from the spot a minute from the break. Ziggy Gordon was adjudged to have brought down Kent in the box and Tavernier stepped up to fire home his 11th penalty of the season.
Accies brought on Gogic and Martin to try and steady the second half ship, as the game became about damage limitation. And it did seem to limit the space and freedom Rangers were enjoying in the opening 45.
We got forward on 57 minutes, but a swift Rangers breakaway almost made it five. Arfield played Defoe clean through with Gary Woods quick off his line to block, and also the rebound from Candeias.
Accies then had a good shout for penalty a minute later, Oakley going down under a high Worrall challenge, but the referee waved appeals away.
We had a goal chopped off 10 minutes later, after a swift attack involving Miller and McGowan. MacKinnon got on the end of the cross to finish, but had strayed just offside.
Rangers had their chances late on, substitute Kyle Lafferty passing up a few, before converting in the closing stages, sweeping home a Candeias cross to round off the scoring and
Accies: Woods, McGowan, Gordon, Kilgallon, Oakley, Miller, McMillan (Martin, 45), MacKinnon (c), Andreu, Mimnaugh (Gogic, 45), Sowah; Subs Unused: Marsden, Tshiembe, Winter, L Smith, Boyd
Accies Cautions: Andreu 68
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier (c), Worrall, Goldson, Jack, Defoe, Kent (Davis, 62), Halliday, Kamara (Coulibaly, 77), Candeias, Arfield (Lafferty, 62); Subs Unused: Foderingham, McCrorie, Katic, Barisic
Rangers Goals: Jack, 15, Defoe, 16, Arfield, 23, Tavernier (pen), 44, Lafferty, 87
Referee: Nick Walsh; Assistants:Alan Mulvanny and John McCrossan; 4th Official: Prof Dr John McKendrick