Accies Head Coach Brian Rice and goalscorer Lewis Smith spoke with Martin McConnell and the media following the 2-0 win against Kilmarnock……..
It must feel great to bounce back from last week with a performance like that?
“Yes, of course it is. We spoke about it all week. It was very unHamilton like last week but you saw what Hamilton are all about today. We were playing against Kilmarnock the third best team in Scotland. We played for thirty five minutes with ten men and kept a clean sheet.”
It was great for young Lewis Smith to get an opening goal like that.
“Lewis Smith is an exceptional young talent and we all know that here. I’ve been itching to try and get him in to the team. It’s a perfect platform for him to go and show people what he can do. I see it every day and today you all got a wee glimpse of what he can do. He can do much more than that. He scored a great goal initially and had a hand in the second goal. What pleased me today was his work ethic off the ball, especially when we were down to ten men. That’s foreign to him as he’s just came in to the team after playing in a handful of games. So I’m absolutely delighted that the kid got his goal and put in a great performance.”
He seems to have bags of confidence and is happy to take guys on.
“That’s his strength. His strength is getting on the ball and running at players. I said to him ‘you’re in this team to get us up the pitch with ball, express yourself and not to feel in awe of anyone’. I’m trying to give him as much confidence as I possibly can. He’s a very, very quiet kid but once he’s on the football pitch he does things that put me on the edge of my seat.”
Your players defended resolutely from start to finish. It must have been important for you that they did that today?
“Of course it was, yes. We’ve spoken about it all week. If we’re not going to win games then we must at least not lose easily. Last week we didn’t make Ross County work hard enough for their win and great credit to County as they fully deserved it. Today I thought that young Stubbs was outstanding after just coming in to the side. He marshalled the defence. He’s a talker and he’s everything that I saw during my travels down south when I was watching him. I saw it all today. He just gets his head down and gets on with it, he has no airs and graces about him. I must add a word about Owain Fon Williams. I knew what I was getting when I brought Owain in from Inverness. He was the Wales number three at the Euros remember and I thought that he was outstanding. His baby girl has been sick all week and he’s been in hospital all week with his baby girl. So for him to actually play today is great credit to the man that he is. I thought that he was absolutely magnificent today.”
Did he ask to play today?
“I asked him if he was in the frame of mind and did he want to play. I didn’t need to ask him as I know his character. He was staying in the hospital in the evening time and the night time, sleeping there and training in the morning. But it was never in any question whether he’d play or not. It’s just the character that the guy is.”
How did that feel?
“It was amazing. After last week when we knew that it just wasn’t good enough and were really disappointed in ourselves. We wanted to show what we can do today and we definitely made up for it with this performance. Everyone was excellent and dug in deep and from a personal perspective great to get a goal.”
It must have been a strange week for you. After last week’s defeat, you made your first start in the league and you score.
“Yes, last week we all knew that it wasn’t good enough. We were, I don’t know, just a bit off the pace I think. We had a good week in training leading up to this game and just put it out of our minds and today I think we were collectively great. As I said, everyone dug in deep and especially when Eastie got sent off. We all stuck together and they talked me through it really well because defensively is probably not my best game. Aaron was brilliant and so was Gogic, they both talked to me the whole time. I thought that we deserved the three points in the end.”
You scored one and you set one up. Why did you not win man of the match?
“I’m not bothered about that really (laughs). As long as we got all three points, that’s all that matters.”
You’ve seen some of the players that have come through the Academy. McArthur, McCarthy and Brophy today. Does that inspire you to go on and do it yourself?
“Yes, definitely. I think that I’ve got a long way to go and I’m just happy to play as it is. I know that if I can keep on playing well then maybe one day that could be the case.”
You’re a Hamilton fan. Is that something that motivates you to be even better?
“Yes, absolutely. Every time that I play it’s a really great feeling and to score today in front of the fans is something that I’ve obviously always wanted to do.”
Who were your heroes when you were growing up?
“When I was growing up it was always McCarthy, McArthur and guys like that. Eastie was always playing too, so that feels really weird.”
Did you feel today that it was important to put a marker down and stop one defeat from turning in to a run?
“Definitely. We needed a good performance and any points are a bonus. Last week simply wasn’t good enough and we all knew that. So to get three points was really important and hopefully now we can kick on from it