Betfred League Cup, group stage
Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh
Wednesday 27th July 2016 at 7.45pm
Edinburgh City 2 Hamilton Academical 4
After a dodgy five minute spell in the first half which saw Remi Matthews make a spectacular save then watch as some poor defending cost the side a couple of goals, we fought back to comfortably beat the SPFL new boys 4-2 in the end. The win now gives Accies an opportunity of qualifying for the knock out stages of the cup, if they can overcome Livingston at SSS on Saturday.
This was our first visit to Meadowbank Stadium for a competitive match since the Meadowbank Thistle (now renamed Livingston) days, back on 10th March 1993, Andy Millen and Paul McDonald gave us a 2-1 win before 271 fans.
It was a first half of contradictions in some ways, which for the most part was nothing to shout about apart from a crazy nine minute spell in which City stunned Hamilton with a lightning quick Ross Allum brace, before Accies managed to level things thanks to a 30 yard Ali Crawford free kick and an Alex D’Acol strike from 10 yards out.
The second half was a much more comfortable viewing experience for the watching sizeable Hamilton support, as Accies went about their business in a confident manner. Accies managed to take the lead just after the hour when Jordan McGregor got his first goal for the club after turning the ball into the net from a Louis Longridge cross, then Dougie Imrie smashed home the fourth from the penalty spot.
The opening 15 minutes of the match were unremarkable apart from some sharp passing by Massimo Donati. So to say it was a shock when Ross Allum unleashed a 25 yard strike on the Hamilton goal would be putting it mildly. Fortunately on loan Canaries keeper Remi Matthews was able to touch over the cross bar for a corner kick.
From the corner, Mark McConnell headed on target at the back post and the ball was whipped clear but as far as Allum, who converted the rebound home from 10 yards. Things didn’t get any better for Hamilton as they conceded a second goal within three minutes, after the unmarked Allum struck at the back post from a McConnell cross.
But it wasn’t long until the deficit was reduced, when Ali Crawford sent a 30 yard free kick flying straight into the back of the City goal. The scores were level within three minutes when a delivery into the City penalty area was brought down by Longridge, allowing Alex D’Acol to get his first in Hamilton colours. The final action of the half saw McConnell’s attempted clearance strike his own cross bar.
With 11 minutes of the second half played, neither side had a sniff at goal until Ali Crawford curled a 30 yard shot away goal. But the Accies midfielder soon had a chance to make up for the miss when he played a major part in the sides third goal, after they were awarded a free kick 25 yards from the Edinburgh City goal.
Crawford sent the kick over both sets of players lined up across the length of the 18 yard line, and wide to Louis Longridge who made a solo run from the left. The ball was taken almost to the bye line and whipped low and hard across the face of the City goal. And from amongst a melee of players on the goal line, Jordan McGregor put his foot through the ball to give Hamilton the lead in the 65th minute.
The lead was extended shortly afterwards when Grant Gillespie made a determined run into the penalty area, before being brought down clumsily by the outstretched foot of Mark McConnell. Referee Colin Steven correctly pointed for a penalty kick and Captain Dougie Imrie picked up and placed on the spot. He then calmly ran up and hammered the ball straight into the roof of the City net in the 70th minute.
Martin Canning said afterwards, “I think after the first 20 minutes, two down and you’re thinking this is not great and you don’t want this to happen in any game never mind a League 2 team. But we had a young back four out with young Ronan playing left back, he’s only 17 and usually plays in centre midfield. We also had young Jordan at 19 and had Antons playing at centre back, he plays at left back and has never played there in his life.
“Grant Gillespie also plays in centre midfield but we had him at right back, so the back four was just put together through necessity. Then we lost two goals from balls into the box and obviously when you don’t have a back four that’s a weakness. We didn’t defend it well but from there we got on top of the game and Ali’s free kick was that bit of quality that got us back into it. From there I thought we were comfortable in the game and scored goals and it ended up as a good result for us.
“The plan was for us to come here and win the game, then go and do our job this Saturday and try and win our group. I think obviously at this stage in the season its competitive football and you want to get through in the cup if you can, and then hopefully set ourselves up nicely for the league campaign. But like I say we have to go out and do a job on Saturday.”
The news on Jesus Garcia Tena’s injury wasn’t so good, with Martin adding, “Obviously he got injured in the Ayr game and we suspected that it was bad from the start and it was confirmed the other day, and he goes in for his operation on I think Friday. He has done the ligaments in his knee and I think that’s probably six months your talking minimum until we get him back.”
When asked if many players would be returning for the Livingston match, Martin added “Probably not for Saturday but we’ll have Mikey Devlin back from suspension and we’ll see how Georgios trains in the next couple of days and if his signing and clearance comes through he could be involved on Saturday as well.”
City: Stobie, Caddow, Gibson (Guthrie 62), Martyniuk, Mbu, McKee (Harrison 81), McFarland, Muhsin, Allum, McConnell (Cummings 71), Donaldson. Subs Unused: Gair, MacDonald, Dunn, Amos.
Goals: Allum 16, 19.
Cautions: Gibson, McFarland.
Accies: Matthews, Kurakins, Gillespie, Imrie (c), Docherty, D’Acol (MacKinnon 45), Crawford, Longridge (S Boyd 73), Donati (Cunningham 85), McGregor, Hughes. Subs Unused: Woods, Reilly, Tierney, Breslin.
Goals: Crawford 22, D’Acol 25, McGregor 65, Imrie 70 pen.
Referee: Colin Steven Assistants: Graeme Stewart & Steven Traynor.