SuperSeal Stadium, Hamilton
Friday 16th December 2016 at 7.45pm
Hamilton Academical 1 Rangers 2
A Martyn Waghorn brace, with one either side of the break, was just enough to give Rangers all three points. A goal late in the day from Dougie Imrie got Hamilton right back into the match, but it just wasn’t quite enough to get a point. And although the performances of late have been good, it’s now eight games without a win for Accies.
Accies boss Martin Canning said afterwards, “Obviously they get the goal right on half time which is good timing for them. They then go in 1-0 up and the second goal was going to be crucial. They get it and for 10 or 15 minutes they controlled the game and got their tails up. We stayed in the game and get the goal back from Dougie and gave ourselves a chance.
“I can’t fault the effort from the players, especially after the hard game the other night. They’ve given everything that they possibly could and we’ve finished the game strong after two difficult games. In the last ten minutes I thought we were on the front foot. Searching trying to get the opportunity that could get us back into it and take a point from it. It wasn’t to be.”
The first half was full of explosive energy from the first kick of the ball until the last, with both sides attacking without too many clear cut chances. Then as the match entered the closing stages, the visitors picked up the pace in their search for an opening, and they finally got one when a Martyn Waghorn header beat Gary Woods.
Rangers got another early in the second half goal, when Waghorn got his double after volleying home from a Wallace cross. They took control but couldn’t add to their two goal tally, and allowed Accies back in when Dougie Imrie pulled one back. The last ten minutes were busiest of the game for their defence, but they hung on in for a deserved victory.
There were only a couple of changes to the side that did so well against the other side of the old firm on Tuesday night, with Alex D’Acol replacing Rakish Bingham up front, and Mikey Devlin coming in for Massimo Donati. Rangers made only the one change, with Martyn Waghorn staring in place of Kenny Miller up front.
After a lively start by both sides, Martyn Waghorn scuffed a shot well wide of the Hamilton goal from a ball inside from Barrie McKay. Accies countered a few minutes later when Crawford, MacKinnon and Redmond worked the ball nicely down the left. The ball was swung dangerously across the goal, but the pace of the ball just beat Dougie Imrie at the back post.
Greg Docherty then started a decent move with a ball wide to Imrie on the right, the Accies midfielder cut inside and switched play over to Redmond on the left. The ball came into the penalty area, Docherty stuck out a foot but his effort was deflected wide for a corner kick. Lee Hodson then forced a save from Woods with a shot from 15 yards.
On 34 minutes Greg Docherty created something from nothing, when he and James Tavernier chased a ball down into the corner. The Rangers defender shielded the ball as it headed toward the bye line, but somehow the determined Docherty won the ball, cut inside and shot across the face of goal inches high of the back post.
As the match entered the last ten minutes of the half, Rangers began to increase the pressure on the Hamilton goal, but the defence stood strong. Goal bound shots and crosses blocked, goal line clearances and a keeper on superb form all played their part until Waghorn headed in off the underside of the cross bar from a Wallace cross, a minute from the half time whistle.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart, both sides showed an eagerness to attack. Waghorn especially looked tricky with runs cutting into the box from wide and testing Woods with a low driven shot from wide. He then found empty space at the back post to volley home from a looping Lee Wallace cross from the left.
This woke Hamilton from their slumber and Gillespie soon shot wide, Alex D’Acol was marginally offside as he broke the through the Rangers back line, then moments later he shot just wide. The game was end to end now and Woods did well to save at the feet of Tavernier, before Garner shot a touch too high from 25 yards.
Hamilton began to lose some of their shape, and possession was conceded cheaply before any momentum could build into something positive. But when Imrie stole the ball on 70 minutes, the chance fell flat, allowing Rangers to counter with four on three. Tavernier did the running then shot over the cross bar when players were begging for the ball on either side.
Then it was a close call for Rangers when Darian MacKinnon won the ball on the 18 yard line, raced into the box and sent the ball right across the goal line, Imrie slid in but failed to connect. But never mind, he scored a minute later when the ball was worked up the opposite wing, Redmond whipped the ball along the goal line and Dougie slotted home from close range.
Hamilton now had a foot in the game and tried their damnedest to get the ball forward. The noise from the away support died right down, this seemed to be sensed by the Rangers players who looked shaky and a little panicked at the back. The atmosphere changed and there was a sense that Accies might just do something.
Crawford swung a free kick from the right into a packed Rangers penalty area, Sarris got a head to it and sent it wide of the back post. Later, the ball went into the Rangers stand and didn’t come back out. A new one was found and Woods launched up field, Imrie slipped the ball though for Crawford who then shoot narrowly wide from 25 yards.
Accies: Woods, Devlin, Gillespie, Imrie, Docherty (Donati 39), D’Acol (Bingham 63), Redmond (Brophy 80), Crawford, MacKinnon, McMann, Sarris. Subs Unused: Longridge, Cunningham, Hughes, Thomson.
Goals: Imrie 76.
Cautions: Sarris, MacKinnon, Imrie, Devlin, McMann.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wallace, Wilson, Garner, McKay, Halliday, Hodson, Holt, Waghorn (Forrester 75). Subs Unused: Gilks, Hill, Miller, Dodoo, Senderos, O’Halloran.
Goals: Waghorn 44, Waghorn 51.
Referee: Alan Muir. Assistants: Andy McWilliam & Brian Templeton. 4th Official: Euan Anderson.