Web reporter Martin McConnell gives us his take on Saturday’s defeat at Perth
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Saturday 28th January 2017 at 3pm
St. Johnstone 3 Hamilton Academical 0
We remain 2nd from bottom after a suspension weakened defence conceded three second half goals, and now sit level on points with ICT after their goal less draw with Partick. And it was a cruel end to a game in which Accies dominated for the first fifty minutes, failing to put chances away, whilst everything Saints touched turned to gold.
Accies boss Martin Canning summed up by saying, “Disappointed again, I think we keep losing at key moments in games. The key moments being when Ali Crawford broke through on goal and missed the opportunity to go one up, and probably deservedly so at that time. We don’t score and within three or four minutes we’re 1-0 behind, which is so frustrating.
“Obviously today we were without Massimo, Michael and Georgios, three of our big centre backs and we knew it was going to be a challenge for us. We’ve lost two goals from balls into the box, and we had Dan Seaborne in there as our only natural centre back with young Craig Watson coming back after not playing in a while, and Scott McMann is more naturally a left back.
“So we knew that we were going to be under some pressure. When the ball comes in from the corner we’ve got to go and compete better than we did, then we go and concede a really cheap first goal given how hard we worked. I thought we played well then got outdone with one ball into the box that cost us a sloppy goal. Then the second goal, Dan slips on the halfway line and we got punished for that. The third one again is a ball into the box, and if I think if we’d had Michael, Massimo and Georgios in there, I don’t think we’d have conceded the goal. So yes I’m frustrated and again we’ve got to be more ruthless and put our games to bed.”
Although the game was fairly even in open play during first 45 minutes, Hamilton showed more intent going forward and produced the only chances of note. Ex Accies youth keeper Zander Clark saved an early Darian MacKinnon strike, Grant Gillespie shot wide, Craig Watson went close with one attempt, and Alex D’Acol forcing a save from the keeper as the half drew to an end.
The second half turned out to be a bit of nightmare for Accies when a great opportunity to go 1-0 ahead went a begging. Then every Saints chance struck the back of the net, starting with a Graham Cummins brace within the space of six minutes. Murray Davidson then added a third, 16 minutes from time when earlier it looked like Accies for the taking.
Accies made three changes to the side that progressed through to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, with Dan Seaborne, Craig Watson and Rakish Bingham replacing Mikey Devlin, Massimo Donati and Eamonn Brophy. Whilst Saints rang in the changes with a total of half a dozen new faces to the side that narrowly lost to Celtic midweek.
Accies opened proceeding five minutes into the match after some nice play ended with a powerful Darian MacKinnon shot turned round the post by Zander Clark for a corner kick. From the Ali Crawford corner to the back post, Grant Gillespie struck back across the face of goal and just wide of the near post.
Neither side had not so much as a sniff on goal until the half hour, when Ali Crawford sent a 28 yard free kick sailing over the Saints wall and an inch high of goal. Within minutes a chance fell for Craig Watson who then shot over the bar from the edge of the penalty area. Then with minutes left of the half a 20 yard strike from Alex D’Acol was saved by Zander Clark.
A fantastic chance came from a great Hamilton move, five minutes into the second half when Darian MacKinnon played wide to Rakish Bingham. The ball came back inside for Alex D’Acol to send a perfectly placed ball into the penalty area for Ali Crawford to run onto, then strike just high and wide of goal from twelve yards.
But as so often happens when one side is on top and fails to take chances, Saints scored against the run of play when Cummins headed in from close range, then added a cruel second six minutes later, when Blair Alston was forced wide of goal but managed to cross for Cummins to bang into the net at the back post.
Accies immediately attempted to strike back with an attack down the right, Bingham struck from wide but his shot was blocked. Then Danny Redmond had a go from the opposite side of goal, when he cut back inside and again the shot was blocked before being cleared to safety. Next up was an Ali Crawford shot that sailed high of goal from the edge of the D.
With fifteen minutes of the match left to play, Saints made it three when Brian Easton sent a cross sailing into the Hamilton penalty area. Murray Davidson rose unchallenged and headed the ball off the inside of the back post, before the rebound took across then over the goal line to secure a Saints victory.
Saints: Clark, Alston, Anderson, Davidson, MacLean (Craig 78), Swanson (Wotherspoon 72), Shaughnessy, Paton, Foster, Easton, Cummins. Subs Unused: Mannus, Scobbie, Millar, Watson, Kane.
Goals: Cummings 53, 59, Davidson 74.
Accies: Woods, Seaborne, Gillespie, Imrie, D’Acol, Redmond (Cunningham 89), Crawford, Bingham (Brophy 75), Watson, MacKinnon, McMann. Subs Unused: Matthews, Want, S Boyd, Hughes, Adams
Referee: Nick Walsh. Assistants: Alistair Mather & Stuart Hodge. 4th Official: Graham Beaton.