Web reporter Mark Gillespie gives us Saturday’s details from the first league game of the season
Hope CBD Stadium
Saturday 4th August 2018 at 3pm.
Hamilton Academical 1 Heart of Midlothian 4
After an even first half, Hearts found an extra gear to surge to top spot in the Premiership in week one. Old habits die hard, as once again Accies were to surrender the lead in a game they started brightly. Haring quickly cancelled out Mickel Miller’s first league goal, before the visitors took a stranglehold of the second 45. Haring’s second, Naismith from the spot and MacLean
It was a tough opener but Martin Canning sees positives, and hopes to add some much needed experience to the squad in the coming weeks,
“It’s bitterly disappointing, but I thought we were a bit unfortunate not to be ahead at half time.”
“In the second half it’s about making sure we stay focused, and that’s the thing with young defenders against sharp players up top. You get punished.”
“Hearts showed today, that they’re an experienced team, with a bit of nous, and that got them on top. Losing three goals so quickly suggests we need some older heads to calm things down.”
“Individually we can improve in areas, but as a team we did a lot of what I asked them to do, particularly in the first half. We just need to get a bit of experience in here to help the kids out, and add some competition for places.”
“We’re close to getting a couple of people in. We’ve done as much as we can, so you never know, but I am hopeful.”
Reinforcements will arrive in an already new look Accies squad from last term. All in all there were six changes from the closing league fixture last term, and three swaps from last weekend. Phillips, Boyd and Sowah (injured) missed out, Alex Penny returning to make his league debut, with Darren Lyon and Sam Kelly completing Canning’s reshuffle.
Likewise there is a different look to Hearts this season, but they were unchanged from last weekend’s Betfred cup victory, as they opened up their season in front of a big travelling support.
The visitors were slowest out of the blocks, as Accies looked the fresher side in the opening stages. Sam Kelly was looking sharp on the ball, with McMann getting in some good deliveries from out wide.
A golden chance arrived on 8 minutes, as Mickel Miller teed up Bingham on the edge of the six yard box, but Zlamal was able to spread himself and block.
The visitors looked content to soak it up on the counter, but eventually ventured forward on 14 minutes, with Naismith finding Woods’ side netting after Naismith’s through ball.
We got our noses in front on 16 minutes, as Miller netted his first top flight league goal, benefiting from a misjudgement of MacKinnon’s high ball from Aaron Hughes to slide past Zlamal.
Frustratingly, the lead was to last just two minutes, as Hearts immediately forced a succession of corners at the other end. Woods showed great reactions to deny a Berra header, but Accies couldn’t clear their lines. There was no mistake at the second time of asking with Haring unmarked in the box to head into the corner for the leveller.
And the Edinburgh side began to grow in confidence as the half progressed, Naismith finding space to slide Morrison through three minutes later. He had time to pick his spot but blasted harmlessly wide.
Naismith was finding pockets of space now, and there was another close call on 34 minutes, as MacLean picked him out in the box. The Accies defence was able to smother the ball to safety, with Ikpeazu waiting to tap home the cut back.
An entertaining, end to end, contest looked very even as the half came to an end, Bingham was on the end of a good Accies move on 39 minutes, but he couldn’t find the target after Lyon set him up inside the box. All to play for in the second half. Or so it seemed.
Hearts had other ideas, and emerged looking the hungrier side after the break. The intent was obvious just seconds in, as Haring tested Woods with a long range effort from the edge of the box.
And they won themselves a penalty three minutes later, as Penny tangled with Naismith in the box. The Hearts man got up to blast into Woods’ bottom left corner, and sparked a quickfire three goal burst from the visitors.
The third arrived on 58 minutes, the Accies defence slow to react at a set piece into the box. Naismith was again at the heart of things squaring back for Haring to bundle his second past Woods.
Accies had a shell shocked look about them, as Hearts began to find their passing range and a lot of space in behind. MacLean added number four on 62 minutes, put through by Ikpeazu, to find Woods top corner from a tight angle.
Damage limitation set in, and we at least steadied the ship with the the points in the bag for the capital side. On came Taiwo and Cunningham, with the latter on the end of a couple of late openings.
The tempo visibly dropped out of the game, as Hearts saw things out comfortably enough. A harsh opener for Accies, but the Lanarkshire derby next week offers an ideal way to make amends.
Accies: Woods, McMann, Gordon, Imrie (Cunningham, 70), Bingham (Bloomfield, 79), Miller, Penny, MacKinnon (c), Want, Lyon (Taiwo, 62), Kelly. Subs Unused: Fulton, McGowan, Phillips, Boyd
Goals: Miller, 16
Cautions: McMann, Penny
Hearts: Zlamal, Hughes, Berra, Souttar, Haring, Lee, Morrison (Burns, 71), Garuccio (Mulraney, 71), Naismith, MacLean, Ikpeauzu (Lafferty, 77); Subs Unused: Doyle, Bozanic, McDonald, Smith
Goals: Haring, 18, 57, Naismith (pen), 48, MacLean 61
Cautions: MacLean, Naismith
Referee: Andrew Dallas, Assistants: Stuart Stevenson & Daniel McFarlane, 4th Official: John McKendrick