Accies web reporter Mark Gillespie with yesterday’s details…
Betfred League Cup, Group Stage
Saturday 20th July 2019, 3pm
HamiltonAcademical 2 Partick Thistle 2
(Accies win 6-5 pens)
For the second week running it took spot kicks to decide the extra point. This time we emerged victorious to close to within a point of our opponents at the top of Group F.
Ross Cunningham’s double looked to have us in the driving seat, his first senior goal cancelling out Ryan Williamson’s first half opener. The Accies man curled in an even better one on 54 minutes, as we took second half control, but Shea Gordon’s 73rd minute volley levelled things up to force more penalty drama.
Aaron McGowan had a chance to win it from the spot just a minute later but blasted over. But this week there were no blemishes in the shoot-out as we got the job done. After the dust had settled Brian Rice was pleased to see his side remain in contention in the group.
“We’ve just got to try and win at Airdrie next week and see where that takes us. We may qualify as runners’ up, so the ball’s in our court.”
“I’m delighted for Ross Cunningham. He’s had a bad injury over the past two or three seasons, and worked hard to get himself into good condition. It’s up to him to keep that going, but it’s difficult to keep players who score two goals out of the team.”
“Young players like Ross and Lewis Smith have earned the right be in the team. I’m delighted with what they’re giving me.”
It was just the one change to the team from Wednesday, with Cunningham out to make an immediate impact in place of Mickel Miller. Gary Caldwell meanwhile made two changes from his side’s win at Queen’s Park, with Fox replacing Sneddon in goal and Penrice replacing Saunders.
Thistle might have just shaded a scrappy opening half hour. Cardle caught Easton napping on 12 minutes, dispossessing him to create the first opening for Gordon, who volleyed wide at the far post.
Accies didn’t heed the warning signs though and fell behind three minutes later. The defence was slow to respond as Ryan Williamson had an initial effort rebound back out to him. His second bite at the cherry flew high past Fon Williams from a tight angle.
But we hit back within a minute, Scott McMann taking the ball to the byline to cut back for Ross Cunningham to slot home his first Accies goal, low into Fox’s bottom right corner from 12 yards.
The game lost some of its momentum, with play stopped for over ten minutes as we lost Ronan Hughes to injury. But Thistle almost retook the lead on the restart with efforts from Cardle and Kenny Miller blocked just wide.
Cunningham came close a few minutes from the break, a powerful 25 yarder just wide of Fox’s right hand post.
After the prolonged first half came to an end we also lost Brian Easton to an ankle knock. But we looked to be stepping things up in the second period, Blair Alston’s header saved by Fox on the line just a minute after the restart.
Cunningham had his second goal for Accies on 54 minutes, as Smith teed him up inside the box. He shaped up perfectly to place a right footer into Fox’s far corner.
Smith came so close to adding number three a minute later, his edge of box effort cracking the angle of the upright. Oakley again was inches away from opening his account for the season, set up by Scott McMann.
Accies looked likelier to extend the lead, but there was another twist as Thistle levelled out of the blue on 74 minutes. Sub Lewis Mansell found space down the right side of the Accies box to pick out Shea Gordon to volley home first time
Just as in the first half our response was instant with Oakley fouled in the box by Sean McGinty. Aaron McGowan had the chance in regulation time to prevent the uncertainty of a shoot-out but blasted over the bar.
But this week all six Accies takers held their nerve with perfect spot kicks, before Rafael de Vita missed in sudden death.
Accies: Fon Williams, McGowan, McMann, McKenna, Alston, Gogic, Cunningham, Hughes (MacKinnon, 34), Easton (c)(Want, 45+11), Smith, Ogkmpoe (Oakley, 63); Subs Unused: Gourlay, Fjortoft, Davies, Mimnaugh
Goals: Cunningham, 17, 54
Cautions: Mckenna, 81
Partick Thistle: Fox, Williamson, Penrice, O’Ware, McGinty, Cardle (Jones, 84), Bannigan, Miller, Gordon (Mansell, 58 ), Robson (De Vita, 69), Palmer; Subs Unused: Sneddon, Wilson, Gallasso, Saunders
Goals: Cardle, 15, Gordon, 74
Referee: John Beaton Assistants: Sean Carr and Ralph Gordon