Accies 1-2 St Johnstone

Ladbrokes Premiership
New Douglas Park, Hamilton

Tuesday 8th May 2018 at 7.45pm.

Hamilton Academical 1 St. Johnstone 2

 Mark Gillespie reports from Tuesday at NDP

Barring a couple of 7-0s at the weekend we have nearly secured top flight football for another season. It was a bittersweet outcome to a tense evening, as we fell to a ninth defeat in ten matches, only for our Lanarkshire neighbours to do us a turn with victory at Firhill.

Accies had given their all for an hour as the news filtered through, before David McMillan’s spot kick and David Wotherspoon’s strike put Saints in the driving seat late on. Dougie Imrie pulled one back but the late cavalry charge didn’t materialise. In the end our points and goals advantage over Partick Thistle remains as it was before kick-off.

Post-match Martin Canning refused to concede it’s all over, as he reflected on a night of mixed emotions.

“I know we should be safe now, but stranger things have happened in football. I’d look pretty stupid if a freak event was to occur at the weekend. We’re almost there but it’s important to approach Saturday properly and take something from the game to guarantee it.”

“Tonight I thought we had played reasonably, passing the ball well, but our achilles’ heel is at the other end of the park. The amount of goals we’ve conceded this season has been unacceptable.”

“Overall though everyone can take a lot of credit from the season. It’s been a difficult year, with comings and goings in players, as well as the fraud issue off the park. Everyone from Ronnie and Colin down works extremely hard to keep Hamilton competitive.”

“To stay in the Premiership for another year would be a good achievement, but we can’t be losing games like tonight if we want to improve next year.”

David Templeton returned to spearhead the Accies attack, as Canning made two other changes from the defeat at Dundee. Ryan Fulton replaced the injured Gary Woods in goal. Shaun Want failed a late fitness test, with Scott McMann taking his place in defence.

Saints meanwhile were without on form striker Steven MacLean along with the injured Steven Anderson. Liam Gordon and David McMillan came in as the Perth side sought to kick on from a big win at the weekend.

An early injury to Willock forced Tommy Wright to shuffle his side further, as Accies looked to take the game to Saints early on. As ever Templeton was the architect, with some neat flicks and touches. A delightful through ball on 20 minutes had Redmond through on ex Accie Zander Clark. There looked to be contact as the Accies man went down right on the edge of the box, but the ref saw no foul and flashed a yellow for simulation.

Templeton and Redmond continued to combine well in open play, but it was from the set piece where we would force Clark into action. An in swinging Templeton delivery had to be fisted away by the Saints keeper on 21 minutes, with a powerful effort tipped around the post 10 minutes later.

Templeton threaded Redmond through one on one again on 35 minutes, this time able to pick his spot, but he could only steer a golden opportunity wide of Clark’s left hand post.

Saints had been content to contain Accies for most of the opening 45, but should have been ahead in the run up to half time, twice striking the woodwork. New Douglas Park held its breath on 40 minutes as firstly Williams got on the end of a Wotherspoon cross, only to see his header come off the Accies bar.

A minute from the break and McMilllan got down the right flank to cut back for Tanser on the edge of the box. Once again the woodwork came to Accies’ rescue as his powerful effort came off the outside of Fulton’s far post.

Accies came close two minutes after the break, as Imrie got the ball wide to find MacKinnon inside the box, but Clark was equal to his powerful header with an instinctive stop.

We lost that first half intensity just as news from Firhill filtered through, and conceded a penalty on 65 minutes. A straightforward ball over the top caught the Accies rearguard out, with Fulton bringing down Williams as he bore in on goal from wide. McMillan stepped up to send the Accies keeper the wrong way.

And Saints doubled their lead on 80 minutes, as Fulton stopped a powerful strike by sub Scougall, only for Wotherspoon to drill the rebound low past the Accies keeper.

We grabbed a late lifeline two minutes later as Dougie Imrie nodded home a Miller cross in a crowded penalty box. But Saints held on to maintain their strong recent record against Accies. A night of endless possibilities left our league position as you were with just the Lanarkshire derby left on Saturday to secure our league status.

Accies: Fulton, McMann, Jenkins, Tomas, Imrie (c), Redmond (Miller, 73), Van der Weg, Templeton (Bingham, 85) MacKinnon, Lyon, Ogkmpoe (Rojano, 71) Subs Unused: Jamieson, Scott, Hughes, Cunningham

Goals: Imrie 81

Cautions: Redmond, Ogkmpoe

Saints: Clark, Tanser, Shaughnessy, Davidson, Wotherspoon, Williams (Scougall, 78 ), Kerr, McMillan (Hendry, 74), Foster, Gordon, Willock (McCann, 13) Subs Unused: Mannus, Watson, Craig, Hendry

Goals: McMillan (pen, 65), Wotherspoon, 79

Cautions: Foster, Kerr

Referee: Kevin Clancy. Assistants: Kylie Cockburn & Paul O’Neill. 4th Official: Greg Aitken.

Attendance: 2,367