Our Mark Gillespie reports from Sunday’s home game with Rangers….
Foys Stadium, Hamilton
Sunday 24thNovember 2019, kick off 12.15pm
Hamilton Academical 1 Rangers 3
Accies gave it everything, and it took an injury time goal to ensure the three points for the visitors. We remain in 11th spot, while the visitors move level at the top after the weekend games.
It was to be a day where that gulf in league positions wasn’t quite so obvious, we were more than a match for the title chasers for long spells. We battled back again after conceding early, Lewis Smith’s fourth of the season cancelling out Ryan Jack’s early opener.
It took something special to restore the Ibrox side’s advantage on the cusp of half time, Ryan Kent rattling home an unstoppable 20 yarder. The TV audience might have expected the visitors to kick on but Accies were to be no pushovers.
We had the better chances of the second half and made this a contest for 93 minutes. Kent’s second of the gamecame as a tired Accies looked to make one final push.
Brian Rice agrees it is a game his side could easily have taken something from.
“You saw a team out there fully committed, a goal threat, a team that’ll never give up. We kept going, we were brave, going with two strikers. I can’t ask any more of the lads today”, he said post-match.
“The difference between the top teams and the rest is what they do with that final ball. Rangers can bring these good players in. I’m in the position where I need to produce them.”
“There were some good individual performances today. We win together and lose together as a team. We’re going to be in a dogfight at the bottom, we know that. But today you saw a team that never gives up and play for one another.”
With Sam Stubbs and Scott Martin still serving suspensions we made four changes to the side from Rugby Park a fortnight ago. Luke Southwood made his first start in goal. Brian Easton returned to the side after a month out, with Aaron McGowan also returning from injury. Marios Ogkmpoe returned to partner Steve Davies up front in a positive attacking line up.
Rangers made just the solitary change from last time out, as they went for a fifth straight league win, Jermaine Defoe starting up front in place of Alfredo Morelos.
They were ominously in front from their first attack. A loose clearance enabled James Tavernier to tee up Jack inside the box to sweep past Southwood.
Accies took time to settle and were standing off three minutes later, as Ryan Kent ran at the heart of the Accies defence, clipping the outside of the Accies post.
But we recovered with Miller and Davies showing some good touches up front. The leveller came on 13 minutes, as Ogkmpoe’s cross caught out the Rangers rearguard. Lewis Smith took advantage to head home at the second attempt.
Rangers went on to boss the ball, with Southwood called into action a few times. The debut man tipped behind another long-range effort from Jack, before denying James Tavernier at point blank range on 33 minutes.
He could do nothing to prevent Rangers restoring the advantage three minutes from the interval. Tavernier helped the ball inside from the right touchline, Kent shaping onto his left foot to blast into the top corner from the angle of the box.
But Accies stayed positive and got better after the break. Ogkmpoe was getting into good areas, Smith just too heavy in playing him through on McGregor two minutes in. Davies did flick him though on 50 minutes, but the Greek striker could only find the side netting.
Miller then curled in a teasing cross on 55 minutes, just beyond Johnny Hunt’s control at the back post. The Accies striker then passed up the chance of the game on 63 minutes, sub George Oakley laying the ball on a plate from one yard out. Miller just couldn’t set himself to and somehow it didn’t end up in the net.
Rangers had offered little second half threat, a Helander header wide all they had to show for a quiet first half. Accies looked the likelier side, Oakley heading another glorious chance straight at McGregor on 83 minutes.
Rangers might have been happier to see the final whistle but showed their more clinical side to wrap the pints up in injury time. A loose clearance allowed Morelos to set up Kent to sweep home his second and settle the contest.
Accies: Southwood, McGowan, McMann, Hunt, Davies, Miller, Gogic, Easton (c), L Smith (Cunningham, 79), Hamilton, Ogkmpoe (Oakley, 53) Subs Unused: Fon Williams, Collar, MacKinnon, Moyo, Want
Bookings: Oakley, 62, Gogic, 64
Goals: L Smith, 13
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Helander Goldson, Jack, Defoe (Morelos, 85), Kent, Aribo (Davis, 76), Kamara, Barisic, Arfield (Ojo, 66); Subs Unused: Foderingham, Flanagan, Katic,Stewart
Bookings: Defoe, 70, Morelos, 88
Goals: Jack, 6, Kent, 42, 90+2
Referee: Steven McLean Assistants: Dougie Potter and Drew Kirkland 4th Official: Gavin Ross