Web reporter Martin McConnell gives us Saturday’s match report
At The SuperSeal Stadium
Saturday 8th April 2017 at 3pm.
Hamilton Academical 1 Ross County 1
We survived a full second half down to ten men, to secure a valuable point that lifted us out of the drop zone and moved above local rivals Motherwell. That’s five points been picked up from the last three outings, and remain unbeaten in the last six home games with three wins and three draws.
Accies came off the starting grid firing on all cylinders, with Massimo Donati scoring after just three minutes with a wonder strike from outside the penalty area. Accies continued to put County onto the back foot but couldn’t increase that lead. As the first half entered added on time, Skondras went into a challenge out on the far side, and was shown a red card.
As expected, the tables turned in the second half. County making good use of that extra man, Accies defending doggedly until the Staggies scored from a corner kick. The pressure didn’t ebb, but Accies started to threaten with breaks deep into the visitor’s half. Dougie Imrie, Eamonn Brophy, Scott McMann and Alex Gogic all going close.
Martin Canning felt the red card was harsh and after watching it back, said, “It was never a sending off. I think Ioannis has come across and slid to win the ball and the boy has nicked it beyond him. It’s a foul no doubt, I think because they were both going at speed the referee thought it worse than it is. When we watched it, Ioannis hasn’t even tried to tackle the player.
“He’s trying to slide to block the player and knocking the ball beyond him. It’s not as if it’s even a tackle, and the player’s momentum has then taken him into Ioannis and over him. It’s a big decision that again I think has gone against us, it’s one that we’ll look at and I think we’ll appeal that as I don’t think it’s a red card.”
Martin then went on, “One thing I said to the players, at this time of the season tactics and that kind of thing are important, but your desire, your determination and how hard and how deep your willing to dig, will determine how you’re going to finish at the end of the season. The last two games have shown that we’ve got fire in our belly and we’re up for the fight.
“We’ve moved up a place and been rewarded for digging deep and working hard. Results have gone our way, we’re now a point better off. It’s a really pleasing point, albeit at 1-0 I felt that we were pretty comfortable. I’d have fancied us to go on and win the game, disappointed to have dropped two points but delighted to have gained the point.”
Martin Canning made just the one change to Wednesday night’s starting XI, with Massimo Donati replacing the suspended Darian MacKinnon. Likewise, for visitors Ross County, only one change was made from the side that beat Dundee 2-1, with Ryan Dow coming in for James O’Brien.
Accies had a chance to take the lead with just over a minute gone, Crawford swinging a corner out to McMann on the 18-yard line. The ball was struck low across goal, D’Acol slid in and his strike was blocked in front of the line. Within a minute, Accies took the lead after Massimo Donati struck from 20 yards, sending the ball sailing past Fox and in at the top corner.
It was almost two a moment later, when Crawford rolled the ball inside for Alex D’Acol to attempt a similar strike, this time Fox was better positioned and able to make up the ground and pull off a spectacular save. This was turning out to be a great fifteen-minute spell in front of the County goal, Crawford then pulled a shot wide from outside the box.
With almost twenty minutes gone, Michael Gardyne blasted a 25-yard shot inches wide of the Accies goal, a reminder that County weren’t here to make up the numbers. Although County were looking a bit livelier, Accies were still producing more up front, without some of their earlier energy and clear cut opportunities.
County produced their best chance of the half just after the half hour, when Liam Boyce played the ball inside to Michael Gardyne. His 15-yard shot found its way through a few bodies, before taking an awkward bounce inside the six yard box, but in the end, it sat up nicely for Remi Matthews to clutch to his chest.
As the first half entered injury time, what was a good first half for Hamilton, took a dramatic twist when Ioannis Skondras was shown a red card, with all that work looking to have been put in jeopardy. Dow received the ball out wide on touchline, and had not long set out on a run, when Skondras made what looked like a hefty challenge, forty yards from goal.
Accies started the second half with a change to their ten man line up, with Rakish Bingham being replaced with Blair Adams. Accies did pretty well at the back now that County saw far more of the ball than they had in the previous 45 minutes. Dougie Imrie even forcing a save out of Fox from 35 yards, after taking the ball from Marcus Fraser.
The pressure on the Accies goal started to build straight after Ryan Dow struck the Accies cross bar with a shot from outside the box. Michael Devlin was cautioned for a hand ball just outside the penalty area, Matthews saved from Woods free kick. From the corner, Woods sent in low to the near post, Curren sneaked in and struck the equaliser from close range.
With 20 minutes left, Accies had been sitting deep and County relentless, but Accies fought through that and posed a bit of a threat on the break themselves. A low Brophy shot being saved, followed by a great run and attempt by McMann. Into injury time and Imrie curled a shot wide of the back post, then Gogic shot over after some fantastic work from Imrie.
Accies: Matthews, Skondras, Devlin (c), Imrie, Docherty, D’Acol (Brophy 79), Crawford (Gogic 58), Bingham (Adams 45), Donati, McMann, Sarris. Subs Unused: Woods, Redmond, Watson, S Boyd.
Goal: Donati 3.
County: Fox, Fraser, Naismith, Gardyne, Woods, Dow (Lalkovic 80), Boyce, Curran (Schalk 66), Chow (Routis 76), Davies, Van Der Weg. Subs Unused: McCarey, Gobern, Tumilty, Dykes.
Goal: Curran 60.
Referee: Steven McLean. Assistants: Andy McWilliam & Anthony Cooper. 4th Official: Nick Walsh.