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Ladbrokes Premiership Play Off Final, 2nd Leg
Hamilton Academical 1-0 Dundee Utd (aggregate 1-0)
Sunday 28th May 2017, 3pm
at New Douglas Park
A 62nd minute goal from 20 year old Greg Docherty, a player who has been with the club since he was 8, was enough for us to beat Dundee Utd and retain our top flight status for a record breaking fourth successive season for us, in the post WW2 period.
We were missing the suspended Darian MacKinnon, the injured and suspended skipper Michael Devlin, and injured Massimo Donati, Alex D’Acol and Gary Woods.
Darren Lyon was in the squad for the first time in months after his injury issues.
Full report from Mark Gillespie
Hamilton Academical 1 Dundee Utd 0
Greg Docherty’s second half cracker was enough to secure our Premiership status next season before a packed and tense Super Seal crowd. It sparked scenes of jubilation at full time and comes at the end of a long and challenging season. Players and squad have been pushed to their physical limits, but along with the staff they can now enjoy a well-earned break with top tier football and look forward to next year.
As the dust settled a relieved and proud Martin Canning tried to put into words what this result now means for the club going forward – “Today was huge for everyone involved here, the players, the staff, the owners. You want to be playing and coaching at the highest level and in the spotlight. It’s such an outpour of emotion when you stay in the league and I thought we deserved it over the piece.”
He went on, “I’m delighted for the fans as well. I thought they were excellent today. They were loud and got right behind the team. It’s not been easy going through bad runs and I have understood the criticism and the frustration at times this season. One thing they’ll get out of both myself and everybody here is 100% effort, as we saw again today.”
“We are written off at the start of every season, and our goal is to prove everyone wrong. It’s semi understandable when you look at our budget in comparison with other clubs.”
“Staying up brings the opportunity to hang onto players you want to keep and bring in players too. So there really was a lot riding on this game. We can continue to bleed the young players through the ranks, and give them that opportunity to play premiership football.”
As for the match itself, the game followed a familiar pattern for Canning, but thankfully had a much more favourable outcome: “It’s quite ironic today, because throughout the course of the season we’ve gone one goal up only to lose goals and points, which is the reason we found ourselves in this situation. Today we managed to get the goal and go one up and were able to see it out.”
Docherty’s second of the season was a special strike and it’s something the manager thinks he has in his locker for the future: “It’s a great strike. It’s something I’ve been saying to Greg throughout the season. He strikes the ball so well with both feet, and he probably should have scored more goals for us. It’s fantastic for him on such a big day to perform the way he did and get the winning goal.”
The result is all the more remarkable, given Accies were down to the bare bones as Canning shuffled his squad around for the match. Massimo Donati joined the long injury list with Grant Gillespie coming into the side. Docherty replaced the suspended Darian MacKinnon, but Dougie Imrie was declared fit despite sustaining an injury in the first leg at Tannadice.
Opposite number Ray MacKinnon meanwhile made just one change from his first leg eleven, with Charlie Telfer replacing Kuate in midfield. After an appeal was lodged with the authorities, Simon Murray had the all clear to play up front despite his red card on Thursday night.
And United probably had the better of early proceedings, pressing high in midfield and winning set pieces in promising areas. A first chance arrived on just six minutes, as they won a corner down the right. Blair Spittal’s delivery found Tony Andreu in the box, with Remi Matthews pulling off an outstanding stop from point blank range.
It had taken a while for Accies to settle but they eventually sprang to life in the tenth minute, when Bingham went on a driving run at the United defence, squaring to Crawford on the edge of the box. The Accies man’s shot though was comfortable for Bell.
Accies then created two great chances in swift succession. On 26 minutes Redmond dispossessed Telfer in midfield and played in Crawford, but his close range effort deflected over.
Cammy Bell produced an outstanding stop four minutes later, as Redmond’s short free kick found Crawford inside the box, the United keeper tipping acrobatically around the post.
Both keepers were the stars of the first half. On his farewell match, Matthews pulled off an equally fine fingertip stop after McMann had deflected a Telfer cross into his path on 40 minutes.
It was all on a knife edge but Accies were beginning to get a grip of the game as the second half wore on, perhaps sensing tiring opponents. A great chance arrived for Imrie at the back post on 56 minutes from a Bingham cross come shot, but the Accies man couldn’t manage to direct the ball home.
But Imrie made amends to lay on the all-important goal on 62 minutes, after a great burst down the left by sub Louis Longridge. He cut back for Imrie to tee up Docherty in space from 25 yards to rocket low past Bell.
United went for broke but Accies held firm. Late chances arrived for Simon Murray on 85 minutes, firing over the bar, and then volleying straight at Matthews a minute later after Skondras had mistimed a header.
Hearts were in mouths as Mikkelsen had one final effort, a speculative overhead, clung onto by a grateful Accies keeper. They had done it, and can look forward to more Premiership drama at the SuperSeal next season.
Accies: Matthews, Skondras, Gillespie, Imrie, Docherty (Lyon 76), Redmond, Crawford, Gogic, Bingham (Sarris 86), McMann, Templeton (Longridge 53) Subs Unused: Jamieson, Watson, Cunningham, S Boyd.
Goal: Docherty 62.
Cautions: Docherty, Longridge, Sarris.
United: Bell, Dillon, Dixon, Durnan, Spittal, Murray, Telfer (Fraser, 71), Edjenguele, Flood, Mikkelson, Andreu. Subs Unused: Zwick, Donaldson, Toshney, Nicholls, Robson, Allardice.
Referee Craig Thomson, Assistants Alan Mulvanny & Sean Carr, 4th Alan Muir