Tannadice Park, Dundee
Sunday 24th April 2016, 3pm
Dundee United 1 Hamilton Academical 3
Web reporter Martin McConnell was at Tannadice on Sunday….
We took a massive step forward in our quest to secure Premiership football at NDP next season, with a 3-1 win against a Dundee United side that looked all but resigned for the Championship. In a game that Accies dominated for almost all of the 90 minutes, Grant Gillespie opened the scoring on 11 minutes. Carlton Morris read the flow of the game perfectly, and was on hand to capitalise twice to put Accies three goals to the good, before Simon Murray pressured Grant Gillespie into knocking one beyond McGovern a minute from the end.
United boss Mixu Paatelainen made four changes to the side that were beaten on penalties by Hibernian in the Scottish Cup semi-final. With Durnan, Dixon, Fraser and Demel starting in place of Morris, Donaldson, Spittal, and Erskine. Whilst Martin Canning made only two changes to the side that beat Dundee 2-1 at NDP. The injured Eamonn Brophy and Jesus Garcia Tena being replaced by Grant Gillespie and Antons Kurakins.
Hamilton kicked off and managed to pin back United in their own half for the first ten minutes or so. They looked confident in defence and managed to break up any rare tangerine forays that managed to cross the halfway line. Ali Crawford and Darian MacKinnon having shots blocked in quick succession, then Dougie Imrie having two decent attempts on goal saved by United’s Japanese keeper Eiji Kawashima. That dominance paid off when Grant Gillespie scored a superb opener for Hamilton.
MacKinnon won the ball in midfield and touched forward for Imrie, the Accies midfielder immediately sent wide to Carlton Morris on the right. The big English striker cut the cross back toward Gillespie on the edge of the penalty area, and he wasted no time by striking with his first touch. The ball was sweetly struck with bags of power, struck the right hand upright, back across goal and into the net for the first goal of the day. It was Grant’s first goal of the season, his first goal since away to Dumbarton in August 2013, and his first top flight goal. Deserved!
On 22 minutes, United had their first attempt on goal when Scott Fraser struck well over the Hamilton cross bar from 25 yards. The match entered the doldrums for a spell in which the pace of the game slowed significantly, with neither side showing much in the way of creativity. It livened up when Gillespie received the ball on the 18 yard line from a throw in, and poked it through a gap in the United backline for Ali Crawford to smash into the side netting.
As the first half wound down, Accies won a free kick 40 yards from goal after Dow brought down Morris. Crawford delivered the ball perfectly into the penalty area for big Lucas Tagliapietra to rise and head back across goal. Only a magnificent save by Kawashima stopped the hosts from going into the break 2-0 down. From the corner, the United defence struggled to clear their lines and were fortunate in not conceding another.
Half Time: Dundee United 0 Hamilton Academical 1
Three minutes into the second half and Imrie won the ball outside the United penalty area, took the ball to the bye line and crossed into the penalty area. The ball escaped the attention of Docherty but Tagliapietra turned and shot, only for Kawashima to save comfortably. At the other end of the pitch, Billy McKay struck the Accies post with a header from a Dixon cross. Then watched as his shot from the rebound was brilliantly saved by Michael McGovern.
Then in the 51st minute Carlton Morris was in place to make it 2-0 Accies. Dougie Imrie crossed the ball into the penalty area, Docherty’s header from an angled 12 yards struck the cross bar but fortunately Morris was waiting to head into the back of the net. This seemed to awaken United and Scott Fraser struck on target from twelve yards, McGovern once again saving magnificently. Fraser’s corner was met at the near post by Ofere, who headed on goal but touched over the cross bar by skipper McGovern.
After surviving a series of scares at the back, Dougie Imrie managed to smash the ball a foot past the post from 20 yards. Again the pace of the match slowed and chances were few and far between for both sides, until Carlton Morris struck again. Ali Crawford shot on goal from 20 yards but Kawashima parried in the direction of Morris who was in hand to score from 12 yards. United managed to get one back a minute from time when Gillespie inadvertently lobbed the ball from ten yards.
A delighted Martin Canning said afterwards, “I think we performed very well, obviously the most important thing at this time of the season is the result, but to cap it with that performance today was great. I’m pleased with the boys as they worked so hard and today we saw that work rate again which was excellent.”
“We spoke about being in their faces and then do what we’re all about in making it difficult for them to play, and we did that very well. I thought we were brave in the manner in which we played as well, the quality of the football at times was good and three good goals as well, I think it’s been the perfect day in terms of the result and the performance.”
Accies keeper Michael McGovern spoke highly of the Accies performance “I thought everyone was excellent to a man and I thought we were really hungry. It was a similar sort of performance to that in the Dundee game, our last game. It bodes well for us in going forward and we showed what we are all about. Getting in people’s faces and we got in their faces and won the ball, we’ve got good quality and create chances to score goals like we did today.”
Goal scorer Grant Gillespie said of his first Premiership goal, “It’s been a long time coming, I’ve come close a few times this season but was delighted to see it hit the back of the net today. The most important thing was for the performance and the three points, to a man they were excellent and we fully deserved the three points.”
Hamilton striker Carlton Morris said of next week’s match against Kilmarnock “We’re taking it one game at a time at the moment but it would be nice to cement our place in the league for next season, 100% next week at home. But as I said we’ll take one match at a time and have a strong week in training to prepare for the Kilmarnock match.”
United: Kawashima, Dillon, Dixon, Paton, McKay (Murray 80), Rankin, Knoyle, Dow (Ofere 45), Durnan, Fraser (Spittal 79), Demel. Subs Unused: Zwick, Erskine, Anier, Donaldson.
Goals: Gillespie og 88.
Cautions: Dow, Durnan.
Accies: McGovern, Gordon, Kurakins, Devlin, Gillespie, Imrie (Kurtaj 77), Crawford (Redmond 75), Morris (Diaby 80), MacKinnon, Docherty, Tagliapietra. Subs Unused: Martin, Canning, Boyd, Hughes.
Goals: Gillespie 11, Morris 51, 72.
Cautions: Morris, Crawford, Imrie.
Referee: Steven MacLean Assistants: Frankie Connor & Anthony Cooper 4th Official: Greig Aitken.