Hamilton retained their five-point advantage at the top of the Championship with a hard-fought one nil victory over in-from Cowdenbeath at New Douglas Park.
Alex Neil described the through ball from his young winger, Ali Crawford to Ziggy Gordon for the only goal of the match as sublime, although it was to be the only piece of sublime skill shown in the match as both sides struggled to create many clear-cut chances on goal.
Going into today’s match on a two game running streak, Cowdenbeath were confident of taking some points from the league leaders having taken seven points from them last season including a last-day win at New Douglas which secured the Fifers survival in the Championship.
Both sides were unchanged from their previous league outings although Hamilton were without Lee Kilday, Tena and Jon Routledge through injury and illness.
Hamilton started the match brighter and had their first real opportunity on ten minutes, Ali Crawford found space to shot just inside the box, but from 12 yards he could only curl the shot over the crossbar.
Antoine-Curier nearly opened the scoring on 25 minutes when he neatly chested down a long ball from Ziggy Gordon, the Guadeloupian then managed to turn, swivel and shoot but his effort was deflected wide for a corner.
Crawford and MacKinnon were becoming the most effective partnership through the middle for Accies and their neat passing skills set up Crawford eight yards out from goal however the youngster could only sky his shot way over the bar and into the away stand.
With a third of the match gone, Curier found himself in another great position to score when he found plenty of room at the back post to take down a Crawford corner, however his low volley could only hit the side netting.
Cowdenbeath created their best chance of the first-half on the stroke of half-time when Marc McKenzie played through a terrific low ball to Jon Robertson who took one touch in the box to steady himself before firing a shot just over the bar.
Into the second-half and Curier again managed to find space in the box where he was able to header the ball towards the bottom corner however he didn’t gain enough power and his effort was easily saved by Grant Adam in the Cowdenbeath goal.
But Adam’s goal was not going to be safe for long as Accies got the only goal of the match on 51 minutes through defender Ziggy Gordon. The full-back found himself with the ball ten yards from Adams goal after a sublime pass through several Cowdenbeath defenders. Gordon made no mistake as he took a touch to steady himself before powering a shot past Adams and into the back of the net.
Ziggy Gordon wouldn’t get another chance to score as he was shortly taken off after his goal when he suffered a minor head-injury when the ball was booted off his head.
On 59 minutes, Hemmings had the perfect chance to level the game when he found himself through on goal, however the former Rangers player shot was saved by the feet off Cuthbert with the ball going wide for a corner.
Hamilton thought they had a second-goal on 65 minutes when MacKinnon stuck the ball into the net however referee Euan Anderson had already blown his whistle after Grant Adam had gone down in the box due to a challenge from an Accies attacker.
The best chance of the match for Cowdenbeath to score came with five minutes remaining. Kane Hemmings had a shot from just inside the box which was saved by Cuthbert but the ball landed at the feet of Robertson who with an empty net in front of him managed to shoot wide of the goal to hilarity and jeers from the home crowd who couldn’t believe their luck.
Next up for Hamilton Accies is a trip to face newly promoted Alloa Athletic next Saturday while Cowdenbeath are away to face bottom of the table Livingston.
After the match, Hamilton player, manager Alex Neil was very happy with the way his side managed to dig out an important three points: “I thought for around 70 minutes we were dominant. It’s always going to be difficult against teams that sit in, they played a four, five, one and tried to make it hard for us. I thought some of our passing and off the ball movement was excellent. But it’s always going to be difficult, when teams are camped at the 18 yard line. We had a number of half chances in the first half, they were a wee bit frustrated at half-time because of our dominance, but we weren’t ahead. But I thought Ali Crawford’s pass to play in Ziggy Gordon was sublime, the way they received the ball was excellent.
“After that they came into it and were dominant for the last 20 minutes. As the game sort of grew on, we gave Cowdenbeath a bit of credit as they threw caution to the wind and put an extra striker on and even towards the end they put their centre half up as well to try and get something from the game. They were already losing so had nothing to lose and we had to dig in and we did that.”
Cowenbeath manager Colin Cameron felt his side could have given more before the goal but was still happy with the way his side performed: “If you came in with 20 minutes to go you would be saying how did we come away with no points here. But for the previous 70 we were off the pace. You come to a place like this, they get the ball down, put you under a bit off pressure. We tried to frustrate them and try and hit them on the counter attack, but our ball retention wasn’t good enough.
“We had nothing in the first-half. In the second-half it was even-Stevens but we switched off for a bit with Gordon’s run. Then when we go a goal-down we seem to change, obviously we changed the formation a little bit and put Greg Stewart on which gave us an extra body up top. But because of that we suddenly found ourselves on the front foot, we start pushing higher up the pitch, putting them under pressure higher up the pitch, causing them into making missed placed passes and us getting on top of them and creating chances. On another day Kane Hemming’s could have had a hat-trick.”
Hamilton Accies: Kevin Cuthbert, Ziggy Gordon (Tony Andreu), Stephen Hendrie, Mikey Devlin, Martin Canning, Grant Gillespie, James Keatings (Andrew Ryan), Alex Neil, Ali Crawford, Darian Mackinnon (Louis Longridge), Antoine Curier.
Subs not used: Blair Currie, Jon McShane, Jaison McGrath, Ryan Finnie
Cowdenbeath: Grant Adam, Dean Brent, Kenny Adamson, John Armstrong, Tom O’Brien, Lewis Milne (Greg Stewart), Nathaniel Wedderburn, Jamie Stevenson, Jon Robertson, Kane Hemmings, Marc McKenzie (Jordan Morton).
Subs not used: Thomas Flynn, David Cowan, Kyle Miller, Andy Russell
Referee: Euan Anderson