Our reporter Mark Gillespie was at Easter Road on Wednesday
Easter Road, Edinburgh
Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 7.45pm
Hibernian 2 Hamilton Academical 1
Any defeat hurts, but this one was all the more so after such a bright start in the capital. Alex Gogic’s early goal had us deservedly on top in the opening 45. But we couldn’t capitalise further. Instead we faded from the game while a resurgent second half Hibs forced a leveller through Christian Doidge. Paul Hanlon then completed the turnaround, nodding home the winner five minutes from time.
Accies now sit four points clear of Hearts after the first league games of 2020. Brian Rice said his side deserved so much more from the game.
“I’m gutted for my boys tonight. I’ve never been as disappointed this season. We deserved something out of that match, I don’t care what anybody else says”, he said post-match.
“In the first half the game could have been out of sight. We were tremendous, but we got a wee bit deep in the second half and a couple of individual mistakes cost us at the end.”
“Football lasts 90 minutes. Hibs made a couple of changes, and our mentality changed a little bit. When you come to places like Easter Road and you make chances like we did, you’ve got to take them. We didn’t, and fair play to Hibs. They made two or three chances and took two of them.”
Coming off the back of two positive results we there was only one change from the side at the weekend. We were missing Aaron McGowan from the injury he sustained against Edinburgh City, Will Collar stepping in at right back. Hibs meanwhile made two changes from their cup draw at Tannadice, with David Gray replacing Jason Naismith. Adam Jackson stepped into midfield in place of Steven Whittaker.
A 4-2-3-1 Accies formation, with Oakley supported by runs from Dales and Miller really seemed to unsettle the hosts early on, and we were soon to take advantage. Scott McMann had already been in behind the Hibs defence within the opening minute, but his dangerous ball across the box had no takers. Hibs survived an early handball penalty shout as Accies forced a succession of early set pieces.
Martin and Alston had a real grip in the middle, winning the head to heads and forcing the hosts into sloppy clearances. And the deserved opener arrived on 17 minutes, McMann’s corner kick finding Gogic at the far post unmarked to head home from point blank range. Only his second ever Accies goal. Indeed it was the first goal in the Premiership of the new decade.
Oakley had been very effective in the lone striker role but his withdrawal on 25 minutes seemed to mark a turning point in Accies fortunes. Hibs hadn’t made Fon Williams work, Scott Allan having a quiet night, blasting over from the angle of the box as the frustrations started to creep in. Loose clearances almost enabled us to capitalise, Alston just off target from the edge of the box after Hallberg’s stray ball on 36 minutes.
For Hibs it could only get better in the second half. They made early substitutions and slowly started to turn the tide. Fon Williams’ first involvement came on 55 minutes, a fine stop to deny Kamberi at point blank range. Doidge’s follow up was blocked to safety after a cutting move down the left flank.
The introduction of Daryl Horgan seemed to bring new impetus for the hosts, Accies pushed deeper and deeper. The leveller arrived on 64 minutes, Kamberi playing Boyle clean through to beat the onrushing Fon Williams. His shot rebounded off the far post, only for Doidge to tap home from a yard out.
There was a jaded look to Accies now as we tried to dig in and contain a home side sensing the win. Hibs thought their moment had arrived on 79 minutes, as Doidge set up Horgan six yards out, but Fon Williams stood up superbly to tip behind.
It only delayed Hibs another five minutes as they threw numbers forward against an Accies bank of five. Boyle ran clear down the right flank to cross deep for Hanlon to head home from six yards.
Hibs: Marciano, Gray, Hanlon, Slivka, (Omeonga, 45), Doidge, Boyle, Stevenson, Jackson, Hallberg (Newell, 45), Kamberi, Allan (Horgan, 53); SubsUnused: Bogdan, James, McGregor, Gullan
Goals: Doidge, 63, Hanlon, 85
Accies: Fon Williams, McMann, Fjortoft, Collar, Oakley (Ogkmpoe, 25), Alston (Davies, 86), Miller, Gogic, Easton (c), Martin, Dales (L Smith, 58 ); Subs Unused: Gourlay, Hunt, Winter, Want,
Goals: Gogic, 17
Bookings: Fjortoft, 53, Fon Williams, 80, McMann, 81
Referee: Andrew Dallas; Assistants:David Doig and Joe Lawson; 4th Official: Bobby Madden
Attendance: 14,674 (105 Accies)