Our media reporter Mark Gillespie was at the stadium on Saturday, here’s his take on the game
Foys Stadium, New Douglas Park, Hamilton
Saturday 17th October 2020, kick off 3pm
Hamilton Academical 3 St Johnstone 5
There have been a few stalemates with the men from Perth in recent years. This wasn’t one of them. After all the goals we now drop to the foot of the table on goal difference.
Accies were playing catch up from the very first minute. A double from Stevie May either side of David Wotherspoon’s strike had the Perth side three up within the opening half hour. But true to recent form we fought back, goals from sub Ronan Hughes and Marios Ogkmpoe before the break providing some hope. Accies threw men forward but Craig Conway restored the two goal lead on the counter before Hughes quickly pegged the lead back with his second. Saints had the final say though, Conway powering home a late free kick to secure the three points.
Despite another defeat Brian Rice says his side showed their spirit after that tough start:
“It’s not often Hamilton score three goals at home and take nothing from the game. I’m not standing here for one minute saying I’m happy losing games, but there’s ways of losing. Today I thought we gave it everything we had”, he said post-match.
“I thought it was a bit harsh to go 3-0 down. It gave us a lot to do. We set the team up from the start with four strikers and we gave it a go.”
“Overall, I’m bitterly disappointed. There were a few sloppy goals, but also some great finishes. St Johnstone’s two in the second half were top drawer. Hopefully, Ronan Hughes gets a boost from his two goals today.”
Both teams made four changes from respective Betfred cup wins. Scott Martin and Shaun Want returned to the Accies fold, along with David Moyo and Kyle Munro in attack. Our opponents brought back Tanser, Kerr, McNamara and McMann on the back of a seven goal victory in midweek. As it transpired, both sides were in the mood for more goals.
We were behind in just under a minute, Odoffin half clearing a Saints high ball almost from kick off. Wotherspoon gathered on the left of the box, finding Stevie May to flick past Fulton. Ex Accie May was looking in the mood, volleying wide on 11 minutes, as the visitors made all the early running.
Accies were sitting deep and the second arrived on 13 minutes. Wotherspoon this time found with time and space on the edge of the D to steer low past Fulton.
As in a few games this season, Accies were slow out of the blocks. David Templeton had our only early sight of goal, flashing just wide of Zander Clark’s post. It was a further blow when the striker had to come off injured on 19 minutes. But Hughes was to come off the bench to make his own mark on the game.
The chances were soon falling in both goalmouths. Ex Accies youth player Clark punched away a Ross Callachan free kick on 29 minutes, with Fulton tipping over a May header two minutes later. But from the resulting Wotherspoon corner the ex Accie glanced home his second at the near post.
A few times might have folded but we had a lifeline six minutes from the break as Kyle Munro helped on a high ball for sub Hughes in space in the box to sweep low past Clark. Then Ogkmpoe nodded home a Scott McMann free kick a minute from the break. The comeback was on.
It set us up for a breathless second half. Clark had to tip away a fierce swirling cross from Kyle Munro on 52 minutes, with Hughes waiting to pounce as Accies threw numbers forward. But it left us exposed at the back and Saints capitalised on a swift counter on 69 minutes. May raced clear of the defence to tee up Conway to net from close range.
Saints were exploiting the space now with further chances falling to sub Craig Bryson and Fulton denying Conway his second a few minutes later. But Accies reduced arrears on 78 minutes, Hughes sweeping home his second after Callachan had rattled the bar from the edge of the box.
Any brief hopes were quashed as Conway found Fulton’s top corner from the edge of the box on 81 minutes. This time there was no way back. Sub Chris Kane nodded a free header in the box wide in the final minute, as Saints saw it out.
Accies: Fulton, Odoffin, McMann (c), Martin, Ogkmpoe, Templeton (Hughes, 19), Want, Moyo, Munro (C Smith, 73), Hodson (Stirling 77), Callachan Subs Unused: Gourlay, Collar, Trafford, Mimnaugh, Owalabi, Johnson
Bookings: Odoffin, 37
Goals: Hughes, 39, 78; Ogkmpoe, 44
St Johnstone: Clark, Tanser, McCart, Kerr, Gordon, Conway, Davidson, Wotherspoon (Booth, 82), May, McNamara, McCann (Bryson, 65); Subs Unused: Parish, Kane, O’Halloran, Rooney, Hendry, Craig
Goals: May 58 seconds, 32, Wotherspoon, 13, Conway, 68, 81
Referee: Kevin Clancy; Assistants: Graeme Leslie & John McCrossan; 4th Official: Euan Anderson