Hamilton Academical 2 Albion Rovers 2
Accies win 6-5 on penalties
Website reporter Martin McConnel was at NDP on Saturday for the Lanarkshire Derby match….
With Falkirk having to concede their final match against Ayr United because they couldn’t field a side, United were awarded the 3-0 win, three points, and finished top of our group on ten points. This meant we could only finish second at best, progressing to the second round only if we could beat Rovers and manage to be one of the three best runners up.
However, this we weren’t able to do.
Despite playing some entertaining and creative football, Albion broke the deadlock close to halftime and then doubled their lead minutes later. Accies took the initiative again in the second half with goals from Ronan Hughes and Callum Smith. They went close but couldn’t get a third as the match entered a penalty shootout for the bonus point which Accies won.
Accies made three changes to their starting XI. Making their Hamilton debuts were 16-year-old Chrissy McGinn and 20-year-old Daryl Meikle, replacing MacDonald and the suspended Spence. And Marley Redfern coming into the side for Callum Smith.
Both sides made a lively start to the game. Accies were awarded a free-kick inside two minutes when Kyle Munro fell under a heavy challenge. Munro immediately brushed himself down to strike superbly from 25 yards and forcing the ‘keeper to make a very decent save for a corner.
Rovers certainly weren’t here to make up the numbers and put the Accies defence under a bit of pressure on more than one occasion. But Hamilton grew into the game and went on to produce plenty of chances. Munro struck from the corner of the box and Hughes from a similar position, both making the ‘keeper work to save.
Redfern made a decent run to the edge of the penalty area before curling inches wide of the back post. Accies were now in full stride and playing some good attacking football. Jamie Hamilton headed on goal from a Hughes corner and somehow the ‘keeper gathered at the second attempt right on the goal line.
The chances continued when Lewis Smith chased down what seemed like a lost cause to just inside the Rovers box. He won the challenge, got to the ball, and shot narrowly wide of the back post from a tight angle.
But all that great play was for nothing as Rovers took the lead in the 36th minute when David Wilson sent a looping ball over his head and sailing into the top left-hand corner. Things went from bad to worse minutes later when ex Accies youth player Charlie Reilly put a 22-yard free-kick straight into the back of the net beyond Hilton
Half Time: Hamilton Academical 0 Albion Rovers 2
Callum Smith replaced Meikle at halftime and Accies thought they’d got off to a flyer when they had the ball in the back of the net soon after but it was ruled offside by the near side assistant. They did, eight minutes later when Redfern was brought down as he ran in on goal. Ronan Hughes did the deed and scored his second of the season from the penalty spot.
The young Accies side was flying again, Munro had a 15-yard strike deflected over the bar then he headed another wide from a Lewis Smith cross. Munro had another effort deflected wide for a corner kick, with Captain Brian Easton shooting a little too high from the corner.
Lewis Smith shot high at the back post from a Mimnaugh corner, then Callum Smith went through one on one but Binnie did well to make himself big and block. The score was leveled shortly after when Callum Smith netted from close range thanks to a Marley Redfern cross.
As the match ended 2-2 it automatically went to penalty kicks with Accies prevailing and winning the shootout 6-5. The successful strikes coming from Hughes, McGowan, Mimnaugh, Moyo, Easton, and Hamilton, with Callum Smith seeing his effort miss and Rovers missed two.
Accies: Hilton, Stirling, Easton (c), Hamilton, L Smith (McGowan 81), Hughes, Mimnaugh, Munro, Redfern, Meikle (C Smith 45), McGinn (Moyo 83).Subs Unused: J Smith, Want, Gaffney.
Accies Goals: Hughes pen 53, C Smith 77,
Albion Goals: D Wilson 36, Reilly 39.
Referee: Lloyd Wilson. Assistants: David Doig & Paul McAvinue.