Dens Park, Dundee
Saturday 7th May 2016
Dundee 0 Hamilton Academical 1
We made it three wins from four and secured a third consecutive season of Premiership football, after defeating Dundee 1-0 at Dens Park. The narrow 1-0 victory and the fact that Killie were beaten 2-0 at Rugby Park, ensured that the Ayrshire team would be the side contesting the play offs against either Falkirk or Hibernian.
In a match that never really threatened to be a classic, it was on loan Norwich City striker Carlton Morris that scored the early match winner, taking his tally to eight for the season. Then just after the start of the second half, everyone in the ground thought Hamilton had gone 2-0 up after Eamonn Brophy had scored. But after what seemed like an eternity, after a lengthy discussion with assistant Graham Chambers, referee Steven McLean disallowed it and gave offside.
Accies boss Martin Canning made three changes to the side that were beaten by Killie last Saturday. Jesus Garcia Tena, Gramoz Kurtaj and Eamonn Brophy started in place of Antons Kurakins, Greg Docherty and Grant Gillespie. Paul Hartley made two changes to the XI that lost to United on Monday evening, with Meggatt and Extabeguren replacing McGowan and Harkins.
Accies started well and went close after Michael McGovern sent the ball up field toward Carlton Morris who touched inside to Eamonn Brophy. Morris then made a run down the left and was in position to meet Brophy’s perfect timed pass into the Dundee penalty area. He beat the defender and shot wide of the back post. This bode well for Accies and within the minute Morris had put his side 1-0 up.
Hamilton pressed forward in numbers as the Dens Park men struggled to clear their lines. The ball fell to Morris with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area. He controlled, turned and then touched round the outside of Kostadin Gadzhalov, then drilled low past Scott Bain and into the corner of the net with his left foot.
Dundee fought back and Wighton should maybe have done better when he skilfully skipped past three Accies players, only for his shot to be blocked in front of goal. Kane Hemmings headed just over the cross bar, before Nick Ross missed a gilt edged chance to equalise. Hemmings laid a perfect ball on for Ross in front of the Accies goal, but his first touch sent it wide of the back post.
Hamilton regained the initiative in an otherwise first half bereft of quality, when Michael Devlin headed over the cross bar from an Ali Crawford corner. Then Jesus Garcia Tena headed wide of the Dundee back post from another corner kick, before Lucas Tagliapietra headed over from a Crawford cross. With minutes remaining, Greg Stewart shot wide of the Accies goal from outside the box.
With barely a couple of minutes of the second half played, Eamonn Brophy and everyone else in Dens Park thought that the Hamilton striker had doubled his sides 1-0 lead. But as both teams made their way back down the park to take their positions before the restart, and the Dundee players waited to kick off the game, referee Steven McLean then went to have a discussion with near side assistant Graham Chambers. After a couple of minutes, McLean had been persuaded to change his mind and instead decided that the goal was actually offside. The ball was then kicked back toward keeper Scott Bain in the Dundee penalty area to restart with a kick.
The match then descended into one niggly foul after another, with neither side able to take a grip of the match. A close range Dougie Imrie header was brilliantly forced over the cross bar by Dundee keeper Scott Bain’s reactive save, Jesus shot wide of the post, then Ali Crawford missed with a long range effort on goal.
Dundee fought back and won themselves two consecutive corner kicks. From the first, Daryll Meggatt headed powerfully on the Accies goal, only for it to be blocked in front of the goal line. Then Michael McGovern saved well from a ten yard Rory Loy strike, before being called back into action when he saved magnificently from a twenty yard Kane Hemmings strike.
A delighted Martin Canning said of the Hamilton performance, “I thought that the attitude and application of the players was first class again. It’s something we’ve done throughout the season, when we’ve had a poor performance and poor result the week before. We’ve managed to put in a strong performance and get the result the following week. That speaks a lot for the group and the characters in there. That on the back of last week and in such an important match this week, they can put it out of their minds and refocus in my opinion, and go on and win the game.”
“I thought the shape of the side was excellent at times. Probably our biggest thing was to get the ball back quickly and dominate the ball and look good in play. At times today that wasn’t the case and we sat in a shape and we forced them to play long, and we were able to deal with it. Obvisouly when you’ve got Lucas, Michael Devlin and Jesus at the back, If they’re playing long at the back it would suit us. You would think that against Hemmings, Loy or Stewart. So I was pleased with the performance, I thought that Gramoz Kurtaj coming back in right away was excellent, and all over the park there were big performances. It’s pleasing that it has happened in a game that we needed big performances, and they were all able to do it.”
Goal hero Carlton Morris said of Accies achievement in retaining Premiership football, “I can’t say personally that I’m overly surprised because from the minute that I got here in the summer, I knew that it was a special group really. The club may not have too many resources but our team spirit and the quality we’ve got in our team was too much to go down I felt.”
On why he feels the current Accies side are special, he added, “I want to say similar to Leicester City down in England, it’s just our togetherness and how tightly knit we all are on a day to day basis. You know there’s no divas, there’s no superstars who think that they’re it and we all stay on a humble level, and that’s got us the amount of points that we’ve needed to stay up and stay safe this season.”
Dundee: Bain, Holt, Meggatt, Stewart, Hemmings, Extabeguren (Loy 71), Ross, McGinn, O’Dea, Gadzhalov, Wighton. Subs Unused: Mitchell, Arturo, Curran, Colquhoun.
Cautions: Meggatt, Gadzhalov.
Accies: McGovern, Gordon, Devlin, Imrie, Crawford (Gillespie 81), Kurtaj, Morris (D’Acol 77), MacKinnon, Brophy (Docherty 62), Garcia Tena, Tagliapietra. Subs Unused: Martin, Kurakins, Redmond, Boyd.
Goals: Morris 7.
Cautions: Kurtaj, Imrie, Garcia Tena, Morris, Docherty, Gordon.
Referee: Steven McLean Assistants: Graham Chambers & Anthony Cooper 4th Official: Stephen Finnie.