New Douglas Park, Hamilton
Wednesday 11th May 2016
Hamilton Academical 0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1
In a match in which Ziggy Gordon and Carlton Morris said goodbye to the NDP faithful, the fairy tale ending wasn’t to be as Hamilton narrowly lost out to a late first half goal. It means that we will now have to be content with a tenth place finish in the Ladbrokes Premiership. On the bright side though, Steven Boyd made his first start and 17 year old Ronan Hughes came on for his debut to perform well in the second half.
The first half of the match wasn’t great as a spectacle for either set of fans. It was for the most part fairly even, but Inverness seemed to have a bit more pace and determination about themselves. Toward the end as thoughts turned to other issues, Thistle took the lead when a free kick into the Accies penalty area was met by Danny Devine and slid past McGovern.
The second half was a much different encounter and Accies started with much more determination and creativity. However the only thing missing from the performance, was an all important goal. And it didn’t help matters when Darian MacKinnon found himself cautioned twice in quick succession, before being given his marching orders.
Hamilton boss Martin Canning named three changes to his starting XI. In came Antons Kurakins, Grant Gillespie and making his first start, Steven Boyd. Missing due to suspension were Dougie Imrie and Ali Crawford, whilst Lucas Tagliapietra had a slight injury. Inverness made two changes, with Danny Williams and Iain Vigurs replacing Mutombo and Roberts.
Accies went close early on, after Gramoz Kurtaj sent his corner kick to the Thistle near post. Carlton Morris got on the end of it and headed across goal and just wide of the back post. Thistle countered with a big ball forward in the direction of Miles Storey. The English striker looked certain to get on the ball first, but McGovern read the situation perfectly and cleared literally from the end of Storey’s toe.
Thistle had the ball in the back of the net after a cross from the left was turned in by Danny Williams, but the far side assistant flagged offside early. Thistle looked dangerous and regularly threatened Hamilton at the back, but they lacked a cutting edge with their finishing. Typified when Storey had a great chance to take the lead but hit tamely back to the Accies keeper.
After a particularly barren spell, Carlton Morris struck over the Inverness cross bar from 25 yards, then Steven Boyd made a decent run before putting wide of the post. Grant Gillespie tested the keeper with a strike from the edge of the penalty area, just as the pace of the match seemed to die down. The lull was deceptive as the goal when it came, took everyone by surprise.
With only four minutes of play left until the half time break, Thistle won a free kick 30 yards from the Hamilton goal. Iain Vigurs sent the ball low and hard through a gap in the Accies back line. Danny Devine slipped the defence and raced to get on the end of the ball, managing to do so just before McGovern and touched past the keeper into the net.
Liam Polworth began the second half by sending a shot over the Hamilton cross bar, then forced a block from Michael McGovern before the ball was cleared to safety. Accies sprung to life after winning a free kick 28 yards from the Inverness goal, Jesus Garcia Tena’s strike deflected off the Thistle wall and just wide of the post for a corner kick.
Accies pulled themselves together and stepped up the pace in search of an equaliser. Brophy ran to the bye line before skilfully cutting past two defenders and sending the ball inside for Docherty. His shot was blocked and fell for Morris who struck from the rebound. Again it was blocked, this time deflected wide. Brophy was in position but shot low across goal and narrowly wide of the back post.
A Mikey Devlin header was sent over the cross bar, then Carlton Morris showed great strength in holding his marker off before sending Brophy on route to goal. The young Accies striker shot hard and low from the corner of the penalty area and agonisingly wide of the back post. Moments later an Accies free kick was sent just wide of target.
The resurgent performance took a major setback on 74 minutes when Darian MacKinnon was sent packing. After shielding the ball and aggressively backing into Iain Vigurs, the ref was close by and automatically pulled out a card. MacKinnon appeared to have words and a second yellow was shown followed by a red.
Accies didn’t give up despite being down to 10 men. They went close after the ball was sent inches wide of the post from a 35 yard Danny Redmond free kick. Another soon followed and Docherty’s strike glanced of the wall and wide. In the dying moments of the match Hamilton put the Thistle defence under bombardment, but it was all to no avail and they withstood everything threw at them.
When asked if he was disappointed with his sides performance, Accies boss Martin Canning said, “I think disappointed in terms of the result but performance wise I think we played well. In the second half in particular I thought we were really good and passed the ball, created opportunities. But yes I’m disappointed in terms of result, we’ve lost the game again.
“When we were down to ten men I thought we were still a threat. We had a lot of young players on the park as well for us and Boydy making his first start and young Ronan comes off the bench as well. We finished the game with a lot of Academy kids, so there’s plenty of positives, but the result is obvisouly a negative.”
On Darian MacKinnon’s red card, he said “I don’t think it was a foul in the first place, I think Darian has stopped to go and protect the ball and it’s aggressively he’s stopped, but I don’t think it’s a foul against him and a booking. And then the referee has said that he swore at him, but I think that happens continuously through games and people swear all over the pitch. So I don’t know if he has maybe got a bit involved in it and he has reacted quickly, but that’s his decision and he has made it and we can’t change it.”
Accies: McGovern, Gordon, Kurakins, Devlin, Gillespie, Kurtaj (Docherty 56), Morris, MacKinnon, Brophy, Garcia Tena (Redmond 63), Boyd (Hughes 77). Subs Unused: Martin, D’Acol, Tierney, Cunningham.
Cautions: Gillespie, MacKinnon(2) = Red
Thistle: Fon Williams, Tremarco, Warren, Meekings, Draper, Devine, Tansey, D Williams (Foran 90+2), Polworth, Vigurs, Storey (Roberts 88). Subs Unused: Esson, Raven, R Williams, Foran, Horner, Mutombo.
Goals: Devine 41.
Cautions: Warren, Polworth.
Referee: Stephen Finnie Assistants: Stuart Hodge & John McCrossan 4th Official: Nick Walsh.