Our web reporter Mark Gillespie with his take on Wednesday’s win over our ‘bogey team’ St Johnstone…
Hope Stadium, Hamilton
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 7.45 pm
Hamilton Academical 2 St Johnstone 1
New man George Oakley’s second half double secured a first win for our new management team to move us three points clear of the danger zone.
Our deadline day signing struck either side of Liam Craig’s leveller to give us a deserved win on the night and a huge three points.
For Brian Rice it was a very special night, overseeing his first win as a head coach. The new boss was full of praise for what he’s seen from his players so far.
“I’ll never forget this night, but it’s not about me. The boys deserve all the credit. They’ve worked their socks off. I’m just delighted at the response I’ve had since I came in.”
“I think tonight we deserved it. We put a lot of balls into the box and showed high energy on the front foot. Oakley and Davies up front were a real handful all night, linking the play.”
“The hard work starts now. We don’t play again until next weekend. I’ve only been in a week, and I’ve got things in my head I want to do with them on the training pitch.”
“I want the boys to work hard and enjoy it, and make the people of Hamilton proud of them. Win, lose or draw, I want the town to feel proud of their team.”
Accies made three changes from the weekend, with McMann missing out having sustained a broken hand at Saturday’s game v Dundee. Andreu and Martin started this one on the bench, with Imrie, Davies and Sowah returning to the line up.
Tommy Wright was without Murray Davidson from the weekend, with Danny Swanson dropping to the bench. In came Craig and O’Halloran as Saints sought their eighth consecutive victory over Accies.
But we were out to build on a strong finish against Dundee. The early signs were encouraging, moving the ball quickly middle to front and getting early crosses into the box. Oakley was on the end of a couple within the first ten minutes as we had the better of the early exchanges.
He and Steve Davies would keep the Saints rear guard occupied all night, and it allowed Steven Boyd to exploit the pockets in behind. Oakley teed him up on the edge of the box on 26 minutes, to fire just wide, before Davies laid off five minutes later. Former Accies Academy youth ‘keeper Zander Clark parried and held on at the second attempt.
Saints grew into the game slowly, playing on the quick counter. But they didn’t open up the Accies defence until 34 minutes, Tanser squaring for Watt who found the Accies side netting.
The visitors went on to shade an entertaining tussle, but the Accies defence kept focus and concentration throughout an end to end first half.
Saints looked to step it up again in the second half, with Matty Kennedy wide with a couple of efforts before the hour mark. Accies went close just after, as Boyd’s free kick deflected inches over on 62 minutes.
Once again we made an attacking substitution and got our reward on 67 minutes. Sub Mickel Miller got to the left goal line, picking out Oakley to glance a first time shot past Clark at the near post.
But the lead lasted eight minutes as Saints drew level, exposing Accies at the back. Kane squared across to the back post for Craig unmarked to sweep home.
They only managed to peg us back for three minutes though, as Oakley grabbed his second. It was another sub with the assist as Andreu lobbed a speculative ball into the near post. Once again the new man was in the right place to beat Clark with a low near post finish.
Saints threw numbers up and made us defend their lead into the final stages. But Accies soaked it all up. Ziggy Gordon made one heroic last ditch stop on O’Halloran deep into injury time and three huge points belonged to Accies.
Accies: Woods, McGowan, Gordon, Kilgallon, Imrie, (Miller, 59), Davies (Martin, 74), Oakley, Gogic, MacKinnon (c), Boyd (Andreu, 67), Sowah; Subs Unused: Fulton, Keatings, Penny, L Smith
St Johnstone: Clark, Tanser, Shaughnessy, Kerr, O’Halloran, Foster, Craig, Goss, Callachan (Alston, 84), Watt (Kane, 67), Kennedy; Subs Unused: Bell, Wotherspoon, Swanson, Gordon, Keown
Accies Goals: Oakley, 67, 78
Accies Cautions: Gogic, 63, Andreu, 84
St Johnstone Goals: Craig, 75
St Johnstone Cautions: Shaughnessy, 61
Referee: Gavin Duncan; Assistants: Andrew McMillan & Ralph Gordon; 4th Official:Andy Dallas