Reporter Martin McConnell gives us his take on Saturday’s game and Martin Canning’s immediate post match thoughts
SuperSeal Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday 13th May 2017 at 3pm.
Hamilton Academical 0 Motherwell 1
Motherwell edged past us in the race to avoid relegation into the Championship, after securing three valuable points thanks to Louis Moult heading home from a free kick. It was the only difference between the sides, in what was a fairly even and hard fought derby match, and given its added significance, far from a sight to behold.
Following the game, a clearly disappointed Accies boss Martin Canning said, “I’m frustrated and disappointed. I thought the game turned out exactly as I thought it was going to be, a tight, tense game with not much in it. It was going to be one thing, one way or another, and yet again it was us that made the mistake.
“We switched off in a set piece, which has happened so many times. In the last three games, we’ve now lost five goals from set pieces. No matter how much we talk about it and work on it, you just can’t switch off. If you’re going to switch off at set pieces, especially when games are so tight, it’s going to kill you.”
On Accies current predicament, Martin said, “It leaves us in the same position we were in before we started today, we need two wins, and we still need two wins. We need to go and beat Ross County and beat Dundee on Saturday, then hope that is enough. It’s going to be an uphill battle now to get back above Motherwell and Tuesday night is now huge for us.”
The sides gave their all in a first half that was more blood and guts than anything else, with neither showing enough quality in the final third to produce more than a shot on target apiece. Louis Moult going closest for Motherwell with a free kick that landed straight in the arms of Remi Matthews, and Dougie Imrie for Accies with a strike that the keeper saved comfortably.
The game took a while to get going in the second forty-five, but when it did, it was Alex D’Acol that forced a fantastic save from the Motherwell keeper. Then shortly after, Louis Moult gave his side the crucial goal after he sent a looping header over the top of Matthews head. Accies search for an equaliser went unanswered despite finishing the better of the two teams.
Hamilton boss Martin Canning made three changes to the side that started in the 2-1 defeat to Inverness last Saturday. In came Grant Gillespie, Ali Crawford and Danny Redmond for Rakish Bingham, Scott McMann (unwell) and Massimo Donati. ‘Well boss Stephen Robinson made just the one change to his line-up, with Craig Clay replacing Lionel Ainsworth.
Accies were in the thick of the action from the opening seconds, with Ali Crawford sending a 20-yard free kick over the cross bar after a Hammell challenge on Alex D’Acol. The action switched to the other end of the field when Devlin and McDonald tangled on the corner of the Hamilton penalty area, Moult then struck the free kick straight at Remi Matthews.
Play flowed from end to end, with the sides giving as good as they got. After 20 minutes, both sides showed intent, without much to show for their efforts, until a ball was swung into the Accies box, Moult laid back for Cadden to shoot low and wide of the back post. Accies countered with some great play that led to Crawford sending a 16-yard effort over the bar.
Hamilton were giving away free kick after free kick, much to the displeasure of the Accies fans, as the feeling was that the Motherwell players were going down a touch easy. Something the referee cautioned Scott McDonald for, when the striker dived into the Hamilton penalty area looking for a spot kick.
Accies finally got a shot on target after Ali Crawford raced down the left, and fed Dougie Imrie on the far side of the ‘Well penalty area. With his back to goal, the Accies midfielder brought under control, swivelled and forced Griffiths into making the save low at the near post. Accies finished the half in the ascendency, ‘Well looked troubled, but the game remained goal less.
After a dismal opening ten minutes to the second half, the match sparked into life when Danny Redmond picked up a loose ball inside the Motherwell half. He struck from 22 yards, the shot cannoned off a Motherwell defender, before falling nicely for Alex D’Acol to shoot from 12 yards out, but Griffiths managed to leap across his goal and make a vital save.
However, after a period when Accies had been on top, ‘Well took the lead when a free kick was swung in toward the back post from out wide on the touchline. Louis Moult was able to rise above a sleeping Hamilton defence, and send a looping slow motion header over the head of Remi Matthews and into the back of the net, leaving the home side stunned.
Greg Docherty had a half chance ten minutes later after Dougie Imrie won the ball in midfield, but his shot sailed a couple of feet high of the cross bar. The game got scrappy again, as Hamilton went on the search for an equaliser and Motherwell looked to make sure of holding onto the most valuable three points of the season.
David Templeton made his Accies debut when he replaced Danny Redmond with seven minutes of time left, and immediately made an impact. His shot from the 18-yard line took a cruel deflection over the cross bar, then a perfectly placed ball across the ‘Well goalmouth went a begging, before he was cautioned for a challenge that broke up a Motherwell break.
Accies: Matthews, Skondras, Devlin (c), Gillespie, Imrie, Docherty (Brophy 75), D’Acol, Redmond (Templeton 83), Crawford, MacKinnon, Sarris. Subs Unused: Gogic, Bingham, Longridge, Donati, Woods.
Cautions: Devlin, Crawford, Matthews, Docherty, MacKinnon, Templeton.
Motherwell: Griffiths, Hammell, Heneghan, McHugh, Moult (Ferguson 85), Cadden, Lasley (Ainsworth 66), Frear (Bowman 78), Clay, Campbell, McDonald. Subs Unused: Pain, Jules, Gordon, Livingstone.
Goals: Moult 65.
Cautions: McDonald, Lasley, McHugh, Campbell.
Referee: Kevin Clancy. Assistants: David McGeachie & Alastair Mather. 4th Official: Alan Newlands.