Our Mark Gillespie with Saturday’s details…
Saturday 28th September 2019, 3pm
Hamilton Academical 2 Livingston 1
A late Ross Cunningham penalty secured a huge three points for Brian Rice’s men. These are results that make all the difference come the end of the season, and a fighting comeback moves us level on points with Saturday’s opponents in eighth place.
It had looked a tall order as we fell behind to an early Alan Lithgow header. But Blair Alston levelled a scrappy encounter on the cusp of half time. It wasn’t always pleasing on the eye, but Cunningham’s sixth strike of the season was all that mattered for Accies fans and a delighted Brian Rice.
“It’s a massive win. It’s always very difficult against Livingston, but we hung in there. I always felt there was one chance for either side at the end, and thankfully it came for us.”
“Ross is my penalty taker when he is on the pitch. He’s a good clean striker of the ball, and a confident lad. He’s been out of the team recently, but he’s looked sharp this week in training and I brought him back in. I’m delighted for him and the team.”
“Last year we wouldn’t have won that game, after falling behind early against a good team hard to break down. I keep hearing that’s our first win in six games, but how many have we conceded or lost in those games. My job is to look at the positives. I’m delighted.”
We were without the suspended George Oakley in one of two changes from last weekend. Steve Davies made his first start of the season since scoring the goals which secured our league status at the end of last season. Ronan Hughes also replaced Will Collar in midfield.
Our opponents made four changes from their midweek cup exit, Stewart replacing Sarkic in goal. Lithgow, Robinson and Stobbs also started in a reshuffled Livi line up.
If past encounters were anything to go by this would prove to be a tough physical and aerial test. Accies had a few glimpses of goal, before Livi pounced at the first time of asking. Souda fed in the free kick outswinger, with Alan Lithgow unchallenged to bullet home the header on 14 minutes.
Accies would have to lift things, but neither team was kicking on in a disjointed opening half hour. Not a lot was coming from open play. Headers from McGowan and Ogkmpoe flashed wide as we passed up our own set piece opportunities on 27 minutes.
Events turned our way as half time approached. Livi almost extended their lead on 40 minutes, Souda just blocked out after a mazy dribble into the box. The interval might have been a chance to reboot, but Accies were level almost on the whistle.
Davies flicked a long Gogic throw into the box, into the path of Alston. The Accies man had time in a crowded box to flick past Stewart and send the sides in all square at the break.
It was a familiar pattern for the second period though, with neihter goalkeeper seriously tested. Accies tried to inject some pace with the introduction of Mickel Miller, and he had the one glaring opportunity of the game, played clean through by Alston. But the Accies man could only blaze high over the bar.
But Accies weren’t happy with a point and we finished strongly. Stubbs headed a corner wide as both sides toiled for late heroics.
The big moment arrived five minutes from time, as Stubbs lobbed a free kick into the box and Stewart fouled Ogkmpoe. Cunningham, fresh from the bench, stepped up to fire home his sixth of the season.
Accies: Fon Williams, McGowan, McMann, Davies (Miller, 62) Alston, Gogic, Hughes, Easton (c), Stubbs, L Smith (Cunningham, 69), Ogkmpoe (Moyo, 86); Subs Unused: Southwood, Fjortoft, MacKinnon, Martin
Goals: Alston, 45, Cunningham (pen), 85
Livingston: Stewart, Devlin, Lithgow, Lamie, Bartley, Lawless, Crawford, Robinson (Lawson, 81), Souda (Sibbald, 67), Guthrie, Stobbs (Tiffoney, 58 ); Subs Unused: Sarkic, Jacobs, Pepe, McMillan
Goals: Lithgow, 14
Cautions: Robinson, 47
Referee: Steven McLean; Assistants:Daniel McFarlane and Paul O’Neill; Fourth Official: Kevin Graham