Accies media reporter Mark Gillespie with Thursday’s report….
Thursday 26th December 2019, 3pm
Hamilton Academical 0 St Johnstone1
Disappointment in the last home game of 2019 leaves us three points above bottom ahead of Sunday’s Lanarkshire derby. Alistair McCann’s winning strike settled what looked like being festive stalemate 10 minutes from time. Tommy Wright’s side move up to ninth.
Defeat might have been harsh on Accies, but Brian Rice’s team didn’t do enough to win. We saw plenty of the ball, particularly in the first half, but never tested or forced a save from former Accies youth ‘keeper Zander Clark. McCann’s first goal for his club was in fact the only shot on target for either side.
Saints have proved past masters at grinding out points in these games. Brian Rice thought his side deserved more. Sunday’s derby offers an opportunity to end the year on a happier note.
“I thought we were really good in the first half. We dominated the midfield and won the battles. But the most important bit is putting the ball in the back of the net”, the Head Coach said post-match.
“We’ve had our pockets picked today. St Johnstone have done it for so many years, and fair play to them. I just don’t think anybody can question we were the better team.”
“It’s always difficult to lift yourself after defeats like today. We dust ourselves down and will go again for a big game on Sunday.”
We had hoped to carry on the feelgood factor after a long-awaited victory at the weekend. Jamie Hamilton made way in defence as captain Brian Easton returned to face his former club. The other Accies change was up front, with David Moyo replacing Steve Davies.
There were meanwhile four changes to the St Johnstone line up from the draw with St Mirren, as Kane, Wotherspoon, McCann and May took the place of Kennedy, Wright, Hendry and Holt in Tommy Wright’s starting eleven.
The early signs were promising as Accies looked to carry on from the Hearts game. Accies looked sharp and passed the ball well in the early stages, Mickel Miller always a threat and turning Saints defenders. A dangerous cross come shot flew wide on five minutes. But all the Accies attacks ended off target. Efforts from George Oakley and David Moyo went high and wide on the half hour. We bossed possession without capitalising where it counts while Saints bided their time.
A first sight of goal came for ex Accie Stevie May, a close-range effort blocked wide on 41 minutes. The Saints striker had another pop at goal on 48 minutes, as both sides sought to lift things after the interval.
But it was to be a chance free second half. The match seemed to be petering out as the game wore on. A point might have suited both sides. But the visitors were set to pounce in the closing stages.
Sub Callum Hendry almost made an instant impact on 75 minutes, with a shot ricocheting off Sam Stubbs inside the box.Claims for handball were waved away by the referee. But four minutes later the visitors seized their chance. With the Accies defence standing off Hendry set up McCann to fire home for the decisive goal.
We struggled to find an answer so late in the game, and having used all the subs. Accies will look to put it all behind us at Fir Park on Sunday.
Accies: Southwood, McGowan, McMann, Collar (Hunt, 79), Oakley (Alston, 74), Miller, Gogic, Moyo, (Davies, 65), Easton (c), Martin, Stubbs; Subs Unused: Fon Williams, Cunningham, Winter, Hamilton
Bookings: Easton, 83
St Johnstone: Clark, Davidson, Kane (Tanser, 85), Wotherspoon, May (Hendry, 74), Kerr, O’Halloran (Wright, 67), McCann, Ralston, Gordon, Booth; Subs Unused:Parish, Duffy, Holt, Kennedy
Bookings:Davidson, 59, Hendry, 81
Referee:Gavin Duncan; Assistants: Calum Spence and Jordan Stokoe; 4thOfficial: Kevin Clancy