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Accies 0 – 2 Raith Rovers: Report

Cinch SPFL Championship
Saturday 23rd April 2022
at New Douglas Park, Hamilton, kick off 3pm

Hamilton Academical 0-2 Raith Rovers

By Austin Benson

We welcomed SPFL Trust Trophy winners Raith Rovers to NDP for the final home game of the 2021/22 season. Ahead of this afternoon’s match, multiple Accies players were ruled out due to self-isolation. U18 players Cian Newbury and Sam Nicolson found themselves in contention to make their Accies’ debuts if they came off Stuart Taylor’s bench.

First Half

Raith Rovers kicked off proceedings as Accies looked to extend their winning streak  after a hard-fought win away against Morton.

Accies started the match eager to press Raith along the right flank, with ‘keeper MacDonald claiming Lewis Smith’s cross from the right flank in the first minute. Ellis Brown pressed Raith’s backline tenaciously in the opening five minutes, with the Englishman dispossessing McKay before Benedictus scrambled to clear from within his box. 

Raith Rovers’ initial attacks came along the left flank, as Josh Mullin fouled Ross Matthews in the 6th minute to find John McGlynn’s side in an advantageous position outside of Accies’ box. Ethan Ross stood over the free kick on the edge of Accies’ box and fired an effort which Fulton claimed comfortably. 

Raith Rovers started to get themselves into the game, as Reghan Tumilty broke down Accies’ left flank with pace. However, he opted to shoot from distance, which Fulton saved in the 9th minute. 

John McGlynn’s men soon found themselves 1-0 up, after Poplatnik’s shot inside Accies’ box was parried into the path of Williamson, who nodded past Fulton to see the Kirkcaldy side lead on 10 minutes.

Hamilton began to exchange passes neatly in midfield, which saw Lawson launch Mullin on a daring run along Accies’ right flank. His resulting cross would be collected by ‘keeper MacDonald in the 12th minute however, as Accies looked to level quickly. 

Steve Lawson commanded the middle of the park well and would be Accies’ playmaker from deep on numerous occasions. The Togolese midfielder’s visionary pass beyond Raith’s defence found Mullin, whose shot was cleared off the line by McKay in the 13th minute. This passage of play would be called back by the referee for being offside, as Mullin ran too early. 

Dan O’Reilly entered the book in the 20th minute after pulling an advancing Williamson down. 

Stuart Taylor’s men fought  to level the score-line before half time, creating several chances along either wing. Josh Mullin glanced his half-volley just wide of ‘keeper MacDonald’s far post in the 24th minute following a corner clearance. Accies continued to earn corner after corner, looking to attack Raith aerially.

Ross Matthews saw yellow for Raith in the 33rd minute for a foul on Ellis Brown.

Accies came close to an equaliser before half time, as Reegan Mimnaugh found himself free inside Raith Rovers’ box after a corner delivery. However, the midfielder fired just wide of ‘keeper MacDonald’s far post in the 37th minute.

Second Half

Reegan Mimnaugh kicked off Accies’ second half, as Stuart Taylor’s men began their search for an equaliser. 

However, it was Raith who managed to earn their third corner of the afternoon in the 49th minute, after Popescu cleared Connolly’s left-sided cross. Ethan Ross elected to play it short to Connolly, whose resulting cross would be cleared. 

Raith found themselves on the backburner at times, as Sam Stanton collected Raith’s second yellow in the 52nd minute for a pull against Lawson after the  midfielder exchanged passes with David Moyo along Raith’s left flank. 

Accies had been resilient in dealing with Raith’s initial pressure along either flank, however, were unable to find their footing.

Ross Matthew’s left-sided aerial delivery from early in Accies’ half found Ben Williamson, who advanced beyond Dan O’Reilly and slotted Raith’s second beyond onrushing ‘keeper Fulton in the 57th minute.

Soon after sealing his brace, Rangers loanee Williamson made way for Brad Spencer in the 60th minute. 

Reegan Mimnaugh looked proactive when pressing Raith’s defence, showing a level of maturity beyond his years with his effective off-the-ball movement. 

Raith  made their second substitution of the afternoon, with Dario Zanatta arriving for an injured Ethan Ross in the 64th minute.

Raith pressed Accies aggressively along the left flank heading into the final 20 minutes, as Livingston loanee Matej Poplatnik teed up Aidan Connolly, whose curling effort from outside Accies’ box deflected off MacDonald and out in the 71st minute for Raith’s fourth corner. Fulton confidently claimed Connolly’s delivery and looked to push his teammates forward. 

John McGlynn made a litany of substitutions heading into the final 15 minutes, as Matej Poplatnik and Frankie Musonda made way for Ethan Varian and Sean Mackie respectively in the 75th and 76th minute. 

Ellis Brown made way for Adam McGowan in the 75th minute, as Taylor looked to give Accies’ academy talents some valuable minutes on the pitch.

Dan O’Reilly had Accies’ chance of the match, as he latched onto Lewis Smith’s corner delivery, but the Irishman nodded just over MacDonald’s goal in the 79th minute.

It was a day to remember for 18 year-old Sam Nicolson  as he made his Accies debut in the 79th minute, with David Moyo making way for the youngster.

Adam McGowan intercepted Reghan Tumilty’s backheel, which saw him fire a curling effort outside the box. The midfielder’s shot went narrowly wide of Raith’s far post in the 89th minute, as Stuart Taylor’s men looked for a consolation goal.

Sean Mackie was booked for clattering Lewis Smith in added time. Mihai Popescu stood over the free kick just outside of Raith’s box, with the Romanian’s knuckleball effort flying just over ‘keeper MacDonald’s crossbar in added time.

Stuart Taylor’s side bowed out of NDP after a 2-0 defeat in Accies’ penultimate match of the 2021/22 season. Hamilton will be looking to end their season on a high as a trip to Inverness awaits. 

Accies; Fulton, Popescu (C), MacDonald, L. Smith, Spence, Mullin, Mimnaugh, Moyo (Nicolson 79’), Lawson, Brown (McGowan 75’), O’Reilly

Unused Accies subs; Hilton, Easton, McGinn, Newbury

Raith Rovers; MacDonald, Tumilty, Musonda (Mackie 76’), Benedictus (C), Connolly, Matthews, McKay, Stanton, Williamson (Spencer 60’), Ross (Zanatta 64’), Poplatnik (Varian 75’)

Unused Raith Rovers subs; Thomson, Arnott, Young

Referee: Steven McLean, AR1 Dougie Potter, AR2 Gordon McCabe

Attendance; 1,178

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