Reporter Martin McConnell with his take on Saturday’s home draw with Kilmarnock
SuperSeal Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday 4th February 2017 at 3pm.
Hamilton Academical 1 Kilmarnock 1
With both sides desperate for the points, it would have been cruel for one side or the other to snatch all three points in a game that was fairly even over the 90 minutes. And it was more one point gained rather than two lost as Accies moved to within just three points of rivals Motherwell in sixth, as the race at the bottom showed no signs of easing up for all seven clubs involved.
Accies boss Martin Canning’s take on the game, “I think it probably was a fair result, they definitely started the game better than we did. You can see by the way that they played, that they had a week to prepare for the game. When we played a big match during the week, emotionally, physically and mentally it’s taken a lot out of us.
“We didn’t start well and I think you could see that the performance levels weren’t quite where we wanted them to be. We made a wee change to the side after half an hour and I think that we got a foothold in the game and I think that allowed us to get back into it. I think we were unlucky not to score before we did, then Eamonn goes and gets the goal.
“I thought that we kind of controlled the second half if you like, and we were comfortable without really creating an opportunity. Michael had a big chance from the corner when he heads past the post, it was probably our best opportunity but I think that a draw was probably the right result today.”
The first 45 could best be summed up simply by saying it was a half of two halves. With Killie taking an early lead when Sean Longstaff struck low past Woods from 20 yards, then failing to capitalise from their domination. Accies then snatched the reins, finished strongly and reaped the reward when Eamonn Brophy struck just ahead of the break.
The second half opened with Killie striker Kris Boyd failing to stick away a golden opportunity from right in front of goal. Accies probably had the best of the rest and looked comfortable for the most part, without really posing much of threat for visiting ‘keeper Freddie Woodman. But then again, Killie were even less of a danger.
Manager Martin Canning made just the two changes to Tuesday night’s victorious side, with Dan Seaborne and Blair Adams starting in place of Scott McMann (ill) and Ali Crawford (ankle injury). Killie also made a couple of changes to their line up, with Jordan Jones and Iain Wilson staring in place of Cal Roberts and Karleigh Osbourne.
Both sides gave it a go in the opening stages, but it was Killie that scored an early opener when neither side could fully snatch control of the ball and it broke nicely for Sean Longstaff. The Killie midfielder took the ball forward a few paces before teeing up, and striking low past the reach of Gary Woods from 20 yards.
Killie grew in confidence and began to boss the game, fortunately Gary Woods didn’t see much evidence of this and didn’t have anything to worry about. Accies began to show a bit more promise just before the half hour, but failed to produce a decent effort on goal from their more frequent forays into and around the Killie penalty area.
Their perseverance almost paid off eight minutes before the half time break, when Danny Redmond slipped the ball nicely through the middle for Eamonn Brophy, but the striker struck low past the post from twelve yards out. A few minutes later, Darian MacKinnon made a surging run through the centre before drilling low past the post from the 18 yard line.
As the game edged toward the half time break it looked as if Killie would go in the happier, but the effort paid off for Accies when they pulled level with a couple of minutes to spare. When Eamonn Brophy received a pass from Mikey Devlin right on the edge of the area, he spun, struck, and the ball flew past the keeper and into the net.
With the second half just started, Killie had a fantastic chance to retake the lead when Rory McKenzie broke down the left hand side. He sailed past his marker before cutting into the Accies penalty area and placing the ball on a plate for Kris Boyd. Accies were in luck, as the big striker struck wide of goal from just six yards out.
Accies struck back almost immediately with a couple of chances of their own when a close range Rakish Bingham effort was blocked wide for a corner kick. From the corner to the back post, Mikey Devlin ran in with a great chance to put Hamilton in front, but his header from the six yard line was skewed across the six yard box and wide of goal.
Killie made a decent break on the Hamilton goal midway through the half, started with a ball forward from on loan Celtic youngster Kristoffer Ajer, and ending with Kris Boyd putting the ball wide of goal from close range. But to be fair to the Accies defence, Dan Seaborne looked to have it well covered as he slid in between the Killie striker and the goal.
As the match entered the latter stages, Darian MacKinnon let fly with a shot inches high of the bar from 20 yards. Danny Redmond almost scored from a corner kick, with first the keeper, then Conor Sammon both taking turns at clearing their line. Before the penalty area resembled a pinball machine as the ball rattled around the box until Woodman regained control.
Accies: Woods, Seaborne, Devlin, Gillespie, Imrie, D’Acol (Brophy 14), Redmond (S Boyd 89), Bingham, MacKinnon, Donati (Hughes 81), Adams. Subs Unused: Matthews, Watson, Cunningham, McKirdy.
Goals: Brophy 42.
Cautions: Imrie, Redmond.
Killie: Woodman, Smith (Hawkshaw 42), Jones (Umerah 60), McKenzie, Dicker, K. Boyd (Sammon 71), Longstaff, Ajer, Taylor, Wilson, Hendrie. Subs Unused: MacDonald, Tyson, S. Boyd, Roberts.
Goals: Longstaff 7.
Cautions: Wilson, Umerah,
Referee: Steven McLean. Assistants: Graham Chambers & Paul O’Neill. 4th Official: Grant Irvine.