Web reporter Martin McConnell with Saturday’s details
The SuperSeal Stadium
Saturday 9th December 2017 at 3pm.
Hamilton Academical 0 St. Johnstone 1
Our six match unbeaten run was ended, very much against the run of play, when Stefan Scougall struck from Saints first and only serious attempt on goal. We had bossed the game for the most part up until that turning point and should have put the game to bed much earlier after failing to take chances. As a result, we now sit ninth and a point behind Killie.
Accies boss Martin Canning said afterwards, “I thought we were the better team in the game and we created a lot of opportunities. We’ve only got ourselves to blame and lost that game I think by a combination of poor finishing and a stupid mistake. I don’t think that St. Johnstone have won the game, I think we’ve given them the game.
“It’s a typical St. Johnstone performance if you like. In terms of, so many times over the course of the past couple of seasons they’ve managed to dig into games and manage to find a way of winning it. They’ve done that again and that’s credit to them, but, like I say, it’s definitely one that I feel we given them rather than on earned.”
The first half was fairly easy going and incident free for Hamilton. Although at times it felt as if nothing much was happening or even about to happen, Accies had done more than enough to take a lead into the break. Saints hadn’t yet turned up and had absolutely nothing to offer in return against Hamilton’s threat.
Come the second half, St. Johnstone flew out the blocks, but it wasn’t long before Hamilton got themselves back onto the front foot. Sadly, a mistake at the back let Scougall in to snatch a lead from a well taken goal, and in time, all three points. But as much as they tried to get back on level terms, it just wasn’t to be their day.
Accies recent unbeaten run left Martin Canning in the enviable position of naming an unchanged starting line-up for a third consecutive match. Unlike opposite number Tommy Wright who made a total of five changes to his Saints side, with Hendry, Foster, Scougall, Wotherspoon and O’Halloran replacing Gordon, Paton, Craig, Cummins and McClean.
The match was slow starter then with a touch under ten minutes played, the game burst into life when a 30-yard MacKinnon ball forward split the Saints centre back pairing. Darren Lyon raced in to bring under control a touch short of the penalty area, then attempted to lob Clark in the Saints goal. It was a decent effort but just a fraction long and struck the top of the net.
Accies began to move the ball about well when the ball went wide to Dougie Imrie. He perfectly struck a curling ball into the six-yard box where Antonio Rojano was well placed to rush in at the back post and send over the cross bar from his outstretched foot. David Templeton then went close with a low 20-yard drive after Scott McMann won the ball in the centre of the park.
The chances continued to go the way of Hamilton, when just after the half hour, almost half a dozen Accies players took a touch inside the Saints penalty area before Greg Docherty slid the ball wide for Ioannis Skondras to drive a low shot on goal. Clark saved, and the ball went loose before the Saints keeper gathered at the second attempt.
St. Johnstone started the second half with a determination that was missing in the first. They won a free kick right on the edge of the Accies box within minutes, it didn’t come to anything but it did let Accies know they weren’t going to have it all their own way. With an hour gone, Accies were right back in it, but neither of the sides showed much appetite in front of goal.
That changed when within a minute or two, an Imrie corner was cleared as far as MacKinnon on the edge of the Saints 18-yard line. Darian struck low, and Clark cleared from his goal line with an outstretched toe. Saints went right up the park, and after a misunderstanding at the back, Scougall struck to put his side in front.
Rakish Bingham came on for Lyon to add something extra to the attack, but it was David Templeton that got things up and running again with a couple of shots in as many minutes, with both going narrowly wide. A second substitution followed with Danny Redmond coming on for Greg Docherty.
As the match approached ever closer to the full-time whistle, Hamilton’s search for an equaliser looked increasingly desperate. A shot was blocked inside the Saints penalty area and shout went up for a spot kick but the referee was having none of it, then Xavier Tomas sent a header just wide of goal.
Accies: Woods, Skondras, McMann, Tomas, Imrie (c) (Cunningham 85), Docherty (Redmond 74), Templeton, MacKinnon, Rojano, Lyon (Bingham 69), Sarris. Subs Unused: Gillespie, Gogic, Donati, Fulton.
Saints: Clark, Tanser, Alston, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Davidson, Wotherspoon, O’Halloran, Foster, Scougall (Craig 76), Hendry (Johnstone 58 ). Subs Unused: Mannus, Paton, McClean, Gordon, Cummins.
Goals: Scougall 65.
Cautions: Davidson, Craig.
Referee: Craig Thomson. Assistants: Jordan Stokoe & Daniel McFarlane. 4th official: Craig Charleston.