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Accies web reporter Louise Davidson was at NDP on Saturday for our 36th and final league game of the season……now to the play offs

Hamilton Academical v Kelty Hearts
cinch League 1
Saturday 4th May 2024
3pm at New Douglas Park 

Hamilton 4 Kelty 1 

Our final league match of the season saw us take on Kelty Hearts aiming to continue our good run of form for the playoffs next week.

Boss John Rankin made nine changes to the starting XI from last weekend’s win over Alloa, with Winter and Hamilton being the only two remaining players from last weekend’s squad.

These changes allowed Neeson and Morgan to make their first starts for the club. Rankin praised the two boys’ effort over the course of the season for the reserves and U18s stating that they ‘really deserved their opportunity’.

We dominated the first half and had plenty opportunities to pull even further ahead before half time. We did allow Kelty to claw one back in the first half but that did not set the team back for the second half.

We only needed seven minutes to find the back of the net and on his first team league debut, Morgan took the opportunity to bag his first professional goal. His daisy cutter from 20 yards out bounced off the inside of the post and into the back of the net to push us into the lead. 1-0.

In the 24th minute, we propelled ourselves further ahead when Morgan played in Hastie, who struck the ball low and hard allowing it to find its way into the near post to double our lead. A shot or a cross? That’s for Hastie to decide! Rankin jokingly agreed, “I have to ask if the  goal was a shot or a cross.”

We continued to pile the pressure on Kelty with ‘keeper Gourlay having a busy few minutes. Kirk’s effort from 20 yards out in the 29th minute was pushed over by Gourlay.

Morgan had another glorious opportunity to add to the score sheet six minutes later, but his sublime curling low effort was pushed away by keeper Gourlay.

Kelty pulled one back just before the break when Johnston found some space in the box to turn and lift the ball high into the net. 2-1.

We went into the second half with the lead still in hand and we sourced a few more opportunities to secure the win in the second half.

The 59th minute saw Morgan take the defender the wrong way in the box allowing him to pass to Kirk, however his shot was saved by the keeper.

Lewis Smith joined in the scoring action in the 77th minute when he skilled past his man and curled his shot beautifully into the bottom corner. 3-1.

The final goal of the afternoon came in the 80th minute for Hastie, securing him a brace. Smith’s pass found Hastie in the box who shifted the ball wide and fired it in to make it 4-1.

There were a few other memorable occasions for the team this afternoon with the last XI on the pitch all being Accies academy graduates. Rankin stressed how important this occasion was as the club is built on “youth and giving people opportunities” and shows “just how much work goes into the academy.”

Stephen Hendrie hit a milestone of 300 career appearances, with him also notably being an Accies academy graduate.

We now move on to the playoffs where we face Alloa, with both teams attempting to secure their spot in the playoff finals with Rankin dubbing it “a winner takes all for the next while.”

Rankin concluded “we need to be ready, and we need to be flying.”

Accies: J Smith (GK), Longridge (Redfern 37), Hamilton, L. Smith, Hastie (Kalala 82), Murray (Owens 72), Winter, Hewitt (Preston 82), Morgan, Kirk (Hendrie 82), Neeson. 

Unused Subs: Lane (GK), Tumilty.

Kelty: Gourlay (GK), Paterson, McKay (B. Owens 63), Lyon, Johnston (McGiffin 75), Cunningham (Garvie 75), McCluskey (Biabi 75), L. Owens, O’Donnell, McAllister (Bavidge 57), Moore

Unused Subs: Campbell (GK), Tidser, Shearer.

Referee- Lloyd Wilson/ AR1- Scott Anderson / AR2- Colin McAlpine

Att 835 (96 away)

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