Reporter Martin McConnell with details of Tuesday’s eight goal thriller at Cliftonhill
Betfred League Cup, Group Stage
Cliftonhill Stadium, Coatbridge
Tuesday 25th July 2017 at 7.45pm.
Albion Rovers 4 Hamilton Academical 4
Accies went into another Lanarkshire derby knowing that victory would put them in an ideal position to qualify from Group G. But after an almost farcical eight goal affair, they could only manage a point after a share of the eight goals. Accies will now hope to make amends against Stenhousemuir on Saturday, after a match which often seemed more end of season than pre-season.
Accies boss Martin Canning said afterwards, “I was very disappointed with that. I think to lose four goals coming here isn’t good enough. Obviously I made a lot of changes tonight and gave players an opportunity to go and play 90 minutes, as it’s still pre-season for us. That’s the bit that you’ve got to keep in mind, we’re still at the point where we’re still working toward fitness.
“That was nine changes tonight. So, it gave boys opportunities to go and play, and on what I’ve seen, there’s not a lot of boys there that are going to force their way into the first team based on what I’ve seen tonight.
“I think we should have been good enough to come here and win the game. We put ourselves into a position to win the game two or three times, and weren’t able to go and see it through. I think the goal with the last kick of the ball, probably typifies the way the night has gone. We just haven’t done enough to be professional, get over the line and get the job done.”
Martin Canning had rung the changes to his weekend side, rotating his squad and giving one of our under 20s some valuable match experience. New ‘keeper Ryan Fulton started. The only survivors from the weekend were Alex Gogic and Dougie Imrie.
The hosts meanwhile made one change from Saturday’s goal exploits at East Kilbride, with hat trick hero Connor Shields rewarded with a start in place of Higgins.
Accies went on the front foot from the start, with Donati picking out Greg Docherty in the box inside the first minute to flash a header just over. On five minutes Danny Redmond was unable to convert from 6 yards after good work by Tierney down the right, with the cross falling just behind the Accies man.
It was instead the home side who took a stunning lead on eight minutes, with Vitoria getting to the corner of the Accies box unimpeded. The Rovers forward had time to pick out Alan Trouten who shot low past Fulton from point blank range.
Hamilton continued to have the better of the possession without troubling Graham Bowman’s goal. Neat exchanges petered out inside the last third, with Accies unable to find the killer pass that would unlock an organised home defence.
Rovers continued to take advantage of some sloppy play at the back from Accies but suffered a blow on 28 minutes, when Joao Victoria was withdrawn after taking an ankle knock in an innocuous challenge on the edge of the Accies penalty area.
The half began to take on a pedestrian feel about it but Accies were back in the game on 37 minutes, Donati rifling in a high first time shot in off the bar from a Boyd corner giving Bowman no chance. Hamilton then got their noses in front, just on the cusp of half time, as Danny Redmond swung a free kick into the area for Shaun Want to nod home his first ever goal for the Accies first team.
Accies would have hoped to bounce on from this but any thoughts that they could stroll through the second half were banished when Rovers got back on terms six minutes after the restart. Davidson burst down the left, taking advantage of indecision at the back to square for Trouten to tap home his second of the game.
The advantage swung back Accies way on 57 minutes, after a succession of corners, Donati knocking down the Templeton set piece into the path of Want to shoot home his second of the night from close range.
The lead was to last seven minutes as Trouten grabbed his hat trick, in similar fashion to his second goal, taking advantage of space down the Accies left to play into the Albion striker’s feet and he made no mistake by sending the ball low into Fulton’s right-hand corner.
The end to end tussle continued with Templeton striking the bar from a scissor kick inside the Albion six-yard box, after a Skondras cross from the right a minute later. With neither defence enjoying a good night a winner seemed likely in normal time. It was sub Rakish Bingham who won a spot kick after a trip by Alan Reid, and he stepped up to send Bowman the wrong way 17 minutes from time.
Could there be another twist? Late chances fell to Accies sub Ali Crawford and Skondras to make certain there would be no fightback. Want almost grabbed a memorable hat trick with three minutes left, Bowman palming his goal bound header over the bar.
Given the ebb and flow of this game, a last second Albion equaliser seemed hardly a surprise. Davidson was quickest to charge down a Donati clearance and chip past Fulton off his line to send the game into penalties.
Like Saturdays penalty shoot-out, Accies went two down after both Massimo Donati and Greg Docherty had their spot kicks saved. Ali Crawford and Rakish Bingham gave the travelling support something to cling onto, however briefly, before hat trick hero Alan Trouten made it four from four and take the valuable bonus point for Rovers.
Rovers: Bowman, Reid, Lightbody, Perry, McLaughlin, Holmes (McMullen, 76) Fisher, Davidson, Trouten, Victoria (Hopkins, 28 ), Shields. Subs Unused: Guthrie, McManus, MacMillan.
Goals: Trouten 8, 52, 64, Davidson 90+1.
Accies: Fulton, Skondras, Gogic, Donati, Want, Imrie (c), Docherty, Lyon (Crawford, 71), Redmond, Tierney (Bingham, 66), S Boyd (Templeton, 45). Subs Unused: Jamieson, Longridge, Hughes, Sarris.
Goals: Donati 37, Want 45+2, 57, Bingham 73 pen.
Cautions: Imrie, Redmond.
Referee: Barry Cook. Assistants: Ross Haswell & Brian Templeton.