SPFL Cinch Championship
Saturday 8th January 2022
New Douglas Park, Hamilton
Hamilton Academical 2 – 2 Partick Thistle
By Declan Hughes
A tightly contested contest was on offer as we marked our first home match of 2022 with a 2-2 draw against Partick Thistle on Saturday.
Stuart Taylor’s men were looking to pick up where they left off last time out in Dumfries, after a comfortable victory away to Queen of the South.
It was Accies who registered the first chance of the match. Attacker Andy Winter, who was making his first start in 364 days linked up play with Andy Ryan to tee up his effort. However, the attempt sail inches wide of the post.
The chance however, falling victim to an offside call from the assistant referee.
Both teams seemed to set up conservatively, proving to be tentative in attack and more focused on keeping the ball out of their own net.
The best chance of the first half arguably fell to Mihai Popescu, when the central defender rose well to get on the end of a delightful Lewis Smith cross, but ultimately saw Jamie Sneddon in the Thistle net parry the attempt away at the last moment.
As the half grew older it proved to be a cagey affair. The men in red and white unable to get that all important goal to put them in the lead as the sides looked destined to go in at the half level.
This wasn’t without a fight for both sides continuing to look for the cutting edge in the minutes that remained.
Just 10 minutes before the half time whistle, our visitors went close. Richard Foster crossed into a dangerous area, but the Accies defence cleared well.
As the game entered the additional time at the end of the half Accies gave away a foul on the edge of the box. This was drilled past a diving Joe Hilton by winger Scott Tiffoney, putting the jags level at the break.
ACCIES 0-1 THISTLE
The second half started with Thistle determined to pick up from where they left off. Goal scorer Tiffoney at the heart of their attacks. A dangerous run into the box saw him unleash a shot which was fired narrowly into the side netting.
However, the Lanarkshire side show no signs of backing down from. The fight as they too raised their intensity. An attacking move down the right hand side led to defender Lewis Mayo fouling Lewis Smith to give Accies a penalty and a chance to draw level.
Andy Ryan stepped up to slot home the penalty to bring Accies back on level terms – his first goal since November 30th against Kilmarnock.
It was a goal which forced both sides to take more risks in their play and saw the encounter become end-to-end. Tiffoney again with some trickery down the left which saw his drag back to Brian Graham snatched at, making for a comfortable Hilton save.
At the opposite end, Accies chapped on the door with Jamie Hamilton, who transitioned into the right back position, away from his starting midfield role, seeing his lofted cross fly over the heads of everyone in the box.
Despite a positive response from Stuart Taylor’s men, Thistle were the team to get their noses in front. The Jags utilising their physical target man, Brian Graham well, where his knock down fell to the feet of Zak Rudden who poked home from five yards out on 64 minutes.
Accies refused to allow their heads drop and the Lanarkshire men responded almost instantly – a great acrobatic scissor kick from Mihai Popescu saw his cracking effort hit the back of the net. The defenders first goal for the club and he becomes the first Romanian to score for Accies
It appeared from the balance of play in the second half that both managers gave their sides the impetus to go for the jugular, to gain the three points.
Stuart Taylor’s men continued to push to get themselves in front for the first time in the game, and as the game approached the 80-minute mark, Jamie Hamilton found himself in acres of space from a resulting corner, but his headed effort unfortunately smashing off the bar.
The momentum seemed to be going the way of Taylor’s side, however, Thistle looked to be a threat towards the final minutes, with a critical goal line clearance from Matthew Shiels, preventing the visitors from snatching the three points.
The late bombardment from the Jags also saw Hilton forced to get a vital tip on a 20-yard drive from Scott Tiffoney, however, Accies stood firm to see out another important point which stretches the unbeaten run in 2022 for the time being.
Accies: Hilton, Virtanen, Popescu, Easton (c), Hamilton, Ryan, L Smith, Winter, Redfern (Mimnaugh 51), Shiels, subs unused J Smith. Stirling, Munro, Brown, McGinn
Goals: Ryan (pen) 54′, Popescu 66′
Bookings: Shiels 31′, Virtanen 75′
Thistle: Sneddon, Foster, Akinola, Mayo, Holt, Turner, Docherty, Crawford (MacIver 82′), Tiffoney, Graham (Smith 76′), Rudden (Murray 82′)
Bookings: Turner 88′
Referee: Willie Collum
Assistants: Stuart Stevenson and Duncan Nicolson