Accies media web reporter Martin McConnell with his take on Saturday’s opening Betfred League Cup tie v Queen’s Park…
Betfred League Cup, Group Stage
Foys Stadium, New Douglas Park, Hamilton
Saturday 13th July 2019 at 3pm.
Hamilton Academical 0 Queen’s Park 0 – (QP take bonus point after winning 6-5 on penalties)
We made another slow start to the current format of the Betfred League Cup and finished goalless after a hard ninety minutes against the Spiders. There were few chances, or even half chances, for either side and only one quality save when Muir stopped a Blair Alston free kick.
The match was destined for a shoot out from early on, so it was no surprise when referee Nick Walsh blew for full time and onto penalties to decide who’d earn the bonus point. With the tally sitting at 5-4 in Accies favour, Alfredo Agyeman struck low to the left and Williams saved.
However, the joy was short-lived as the referee pulled out a yellow card and ordered a retake! Agyeman took advantage of his second chance to make it 5-5. Accies skipper Darian MacKinnon then struck well but his effort was saved, leaving the way clear for Block to make it 6-5 for Queen’s.
Accies Head Coach Brian Rice was disappointed with the result saying, “…I thought we were poor, really poor with a lack of energy, lack of sharpness and looked leggy all over. It was obviously a game that we really needed and I thought we were further ahead than that and that’s set us back a little bit. Let’s see, it’s given me something to ponder.”
And on the penalty decision, “ I think that rules are rules. I’m too far away to see. I’m never one to complain about referees making decisions, you can’t win. So there’s no point in complaining, if the goalkeeper has broken the rules he’s broken the rules. Absolutely no complaints.”
Hamilton began with Owain Fon Williams, Ciaran McKenna, Johnny Hunt and Blair Alston all making their competitive first team debuts for Hamilton, whilst Brian Easton made a welcome return after ten seasons away.
Accies made a lively enough start to proceedings but were unable to create anything that troubled the Queen’s Park ‘keeper. There was some concern when Ciaran McKenna was helped off the park to receive treatment after taking a knock but he was able to retake his place a few minutes later.
Another wee scare in defence when a ball forward left Salim Kouider-Aissa in on goal with only the ‘keeper to beat. Fortunately the delivery took him wide enough that allowed Alex Gogic time to track back in behind Fon Williams, allowing some cover and blocking as the ball head for goal.
Then again just after the half hour, Queen’s Park showed they weren’t there to make up the numbers. Some silky foot work saw the ball moved quickly around midfield before finding Willie Mortimer wide on the right. His pacey ball low across the six yard box was cleared at the near post just ahead of a potential touch from Kouider Aissa.
A good last few minutes saw Accies play their most adventurous and effective football of the half and went close when George Oakley headed over from a Johnny Hunt cross. Another followed after a dangerous Ronan Hughes cross into the six yard box was cleared off the foot of Steve Davies.
Within seven minutes of the restart, Hamilton went close after a Davies corner was met and headed on goal by McKenna but comfortably saved by Muir. It was on 70 minutes or more before another half chance came along. When a solid run and ball inside from Hughes was played on to McGowan out on the right before coming back in for Alston on the edge of the box, where he was able to turn and shoot a few feet wide of the target.
With less than ten minutes of time left, Marios Ogkmpoe was brought down by Willie Mortimer as he headed towards the Queen’s Park goal. The free kick was struck by Alston, a full 25 yards out from goal and saved by Muir after being struck sweetly at the top corner of goal.
Then with minutes left, a Miller corner delivered awkwardly across the goal line was punched clear and off the head of Ogkmpoe. The striker didn’t know much about it as he was only a few feet away from the keeper, but in the end sailed harmlessly over the cross bar.
Accies: Fon Williams, McMann, McKenna, Hunt (McGowan 55), Davies (Ogkmpoe 66), Oakley, Alston, Gogic, Hughes, MacKinnon (c), Easton (Miller 72). Subs Unused: Gourlay, Fjortoft, L Smith, Breen.
Caution: Fon Williams
Queen’s Park: Muir, Mortimer (Grant 85), Clark, Little, Jamieson, Magee, McGrory, Block, Kouider-Aissa (Moore 67), Galt, Purdue (Agyeman 79). Subs Unused: McDougal Main, Martin.
Cautions: Block, Galt, Mortimer, Magee.
Referee: Nick Walsh. Assistants: Calum Spence & Kevin McElhinney.