Our media man Mark Gillespie reports from the match at Perth
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Saturday 26th October 2019, 3pm
St Johnstone 3 Hamilton Academical 2
A late Steve Davies penalty looked to have pinched an unlikely point, but Callum Hendry’s strike quickly restored the advantage to bring the hosts their first three points of the season.
Saints had looked comfortable going into a dramatic last 10, David Wotherspoon’s double cancelling out Mickel Miller’s first half opener. We never really got going in an attacking sense, but Head Coach Brian Rice was disappointed at aspects at the other end of the pitch as he gave his thoughts post-match.
“We lost three really poor goals today. Brian Easton’s a bit unlucky, slipping at the last one, but the reaction from two or three others was poor.”
“Individual mistakes today cost us. I thought it was going to be 2-2, but you can’t think like that on the pitch. It’s very unlike us not to see these out. To come away from home and score two goals and go away with nothing is disappointing.”
“We need to move on quickly and focus on Wednesday night. It’s always good to get into another game right away but we know Aberdeen will be very, very tough.”
We made three changes to the side as we went looking for a first win in Perth for four years. Alston, Ogkmpoe and Lewis Smith made way for fit again Aaron McGowan, with Adrian Beck and George Oakley also returning to the starting eleven.
The hosts made two changes from the defeat last weekend, McCann and Wotherspoon replacing Holt and Swanson. Wotherspoon was to be a thorn in Accies’ side all day, as we struggled to track his runs and crosses into the box.
He almost set up ex Accie Stevie May on 16 minutes, his cross from the left just beyond the ex Accies striker. The hosts came even closer three minutes later, Murray Davidson cracking the bar from 25 yards
Accies were sitting off trying to use Miller’s pace in behind the Saints defence. He was finding pockets of space on a couple of breakaways and stunned the home crowd with the opener on 25 minutes.
The Accies striker started and finished a lethal counter attack, a one-two with Beck putting him clean through. He flicked his first of the season past ex Accies academy ‘keeper Zander Clark for the opener.
We hoped it might settle things down but were steadily pushed back, having to defend our own box for long spells. The lead lasted just over 10 minutes, as Wotherspoon got the break of the ball off Alex Gogic to drill home to leveller from inside the box.
Saints streamed forward, scenting blood and Accies sitting deep. Drey Wright somehow flashed over an open goal just on half time after more trickery on the left from Wotherspoon. The interval came at a better time for Accies.
We needed to hold the ball up better in the attacking third, and nullify the threat coming from Wotherspoon. But the pattern continued after the break, the Saints forward clipping the outside of the Accies post on 56 minutes from the edge of the box.
But he wasn’t to be denied his second goal five minutes later, as Matty Kennedy swung a ball to the far post which Accies failed to clear. Wotherspoon took full advantage inside the box, with time and space to pick his spot and curl right footed past Fon Williams.
It was looking a struggle, Accies not finding a cutting edge in response and not picking up at the back. Wotherspoon somehow passed up his hat trick on 77 minutes, volleying over Drey Wright’s cross at the far post.
But we had an unlikely lifeline with six minutes to go, earning a spot kick as Davidson handled in the box. Sub Steve Davies stepped up to send Zander Clark the wrong way for what would have been a great point.
But we were vulnerable all day to balls into the box, and fellow sub Hendry pounced four minutes later, as Kennedy’s cross to the far post found him in space to volley home the winner.
St Johnstone: Clark, Ralston, Tanser, Kerr, Duffy, McCann, Davidson, Wright (Hendry, 86), Wotherspoon, Kennedy (Craig, 90+2), May (Kane, 73); Subs Unused: Parish, Vihmann, Swanson, O’Halloran
Goals: Wotherspoon, 36, 61, Hendry, 88
Accies: Fon Williams, McGowan, McMann, Oakley (Moyo, 62), Miller, Gogic, Hughes, Beck (Davies, 71), Easton (c), Martin (MacKinnon, 57), Stubbs; Subs Unused: Gourlay, Cunningham, L Smith, Hamilton
Bookings: McGowan, 79
Goals: Miller, 25, Davies pen, 85,
Referee: Alan Muir; Assistants: Daniel McFarlane and Ralph Gordon; Official: Kevin Clancy
Attendance: 2231 (185 Accies)