Our web reporter Mark Gillespie with his take on Saturday’s 5th round Scottish Cup tie
William Hill Scottish Cup, Round 5
Foys Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday 8th February 2020, 12.30pm
Hamilton Academical 1 Rangers 4
Another week, and another harsh score line sees us bid farewell to Cup competition for another season. Late strikes from Aribo, Morelos and Arfield make it look a stroll in the park for the visitors. But when Lewis Smith cancelled out Arfield’s spot kick in the first half Rangers knew they were in a game as the clock ticked on. Thoughts turned to a replay, but once Aribo broke the second half stalemate, Rangers duly put the game away against a tired Accieswho had used all three subs by half time.
Pre match we made six changes to the side from midweek, showing huge faith in youth once more, fielding two 17-year olds against our illustrious opponents. Jamie Hamilton returned to the defence with Andy Winter making his first full start. Also coming into the team were Lewis Smith, Will Collar, Andy Dales and Steve Davies.
First team coach Guillaume Beuzelin says his young side acquitted themselves well, for the most part against one of Scotland’s top two.
“It was a similar situation from last weekend. It’s hard to take because the boys gave so much”, he said post-match.
“Again, the effort was there. Our game plan was to be compact, but that leaves space on the flanks and Rangers took advantage there. We couldn’t deal with the crosses they put in.”
“It was a difficult situation dealing with three injuries almost at the same time. In the second half when we chased the game, Rangers moved us side to side very well. Normally we’d make substitutions around 60—75 minutes but we couldn’t do that and conceded the three goals.”
“At this club we’re not fazed to give young players a chance. Sometimes a young centre back coming through will take until age 21 to have a chance. Jamie Hamilton’s the type of character who’ll bounce back from conceding the penalty today. He will learn from and we’ll trust him. So will Andrew Winter. Today was a great learning environment for him too.”
“I’m not sure how the injured players are. We’ll assess for Tuesday. David Templeton was just left out as a precaution. He hasn’t started a lot of games recently with Burton. It was just game management.”
Accies had gone into this seeking just a second ever cup win over the Ibrox side, hoping to repeat that famous day in 1987. Our opponents named a strong side, with only one change from the midweek win over Hibs. Glen Kamara took the place of Steven Davis in midfield.
They dominated the early possession, Ianis Hagi somehow passing up the chance to give the visitors the perfect start, glancing a free header wide from point blank range. But it was to be their only real clear cut chance of the half. Instead it was Accies who got forward with the first effort on target, Andy Dales playing Lewis Smith through and forcing Allan McGregor into action to parry to safety on 11 minutes.
We seemed to be unsettling our opponents, but gifted Rangers the lead on 25 minutes. Hamilton just got on the wrong side of Morelos to bring him down in the box for a spot kick. Arfield fired home at the second attempt, after Southwood stopped the initial attempt.
For many the script may have been written from there, but Accies weren’t lying down, looking dangerous when Smith and Dales broke from midfield. The double loss of Dales and Davies to injury on 35 minutes meant a quick reshuffle. But Sub Marios Ogkmpoe made an instant impact, laying on the leveller for Smith three minutes later. The young Accies star dragged the through ball onto his right foot to thread low into McGregor’s far corner.
It was finely poised. Accies penalty claims were waved away as Connor Goldson appeared to have handled in the box. But for the penalty Rangers hadn’t made Southwood work until the end of the half, the Accies ‘keeper stopping efforts from Hagi and Ryan Kent on the cusp of half time.
Accies were to be at full stretch in the second half, with sub Mickel Miller also withdrawn injured at the break. We looked organised and tried to hit on the counter. With Rangers far from their best, there was still the prospect of a cup giant killing as the last 20 minutes approached. But finally, they found a way through on 67 minutes, Kent cutting back for Joe Aribo to find Southwood’s far corner with a low first-time effort.
Accies had their one chance to reply 10 minutes later, Alex Gogic heading over from a corner kick, before visitors made sure of their placer in the next round with five minutes left. Sub Greg Stewart’s cross rebounded perfectly into the path Morelos for the Colombian to head home at point blank range.
Game over, but Arfield rattled home his second of the game in injury time, in off the bar from 25 yards. Just as last week, to give a final score which perhaps doesn’t tell the full story of the game.
Accies: Southwood, McGowan, McMann, Collar, Davies (Ogkmpoe, 34), Gogic, Winter, Easton (c), Dales (Miller, 35) (Alston, 45)), L Smith, Hamilton; Subs Unused: Gourlay, Hunt, Moyo, Want
Goals: Smith, 38
Bookings: Winter, 19, Gogic, 53
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Edmundson, Goldson, Hagi(Davis, 73), Kent (Stewart, 81), Aribo, Kamara, Morelos, Barisic (Halliday, 69), Arfield; Subs Unused:Foderingham, Katic, Jones, Polster
Goals: Arfield 24 pen, 90+2, Aribo, 67, Morelos, 84
Bookings: Halliday, 78
Referee: Alan Muir; Assistants: Ralph Gordon and Graham Chambers. Fourth official: David Munro