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Keating’s double ensures Accies remain four points clear at the top

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scottishchampionships

A suspended Hamilton player-manager Alex Neil watched from the stands as his young Accies side dominated Livingston from the first minute of the game, as they kept their four-point lead at the top of the SPFL Championship.

Two goals, one in either half from Accies top goal-scorer James Keating’s was enough for the league leaders to win at a sunny New Douglas Park.

Kevin Cuthbert kept another clean sheet, his seventh of the season meaning the ex-St Johnstone keeper has only conceded the three goals in eight league matches this season.

League leaders Hamilton made only one change from the side that lost away at Alloa with Tony Andreu coming in for suspended player-manager Alex Neil. Livingston were unchanged from the team that beat Cowdenbeath 5-1 last Saturday at home.

The first chance of the game fell to Antoine-Curier who only needed to get a foot on the ball from a terrific cut-back from Darian MacKinnon, however the Guadeloupian was unable to get the crucial touch and the ball was eventually cleared by the Livingston defence.

Accies were providing all the early pressure and on five minutes, top goal-scorer James Keating’s had a pop at goal from 20-yards-out, however his speculative effort went just narrowly wide of Jamison’s goal.

Accies had a penalty shout on seven minutes when James Keating’s was brought down in the box from behind after making a terrific darting run through the Livi defence, but referee Des Roache waved away the home sides protests.

With only ten minutes gone, Hamilton thought they had taken the lead when an Ali Crawford shot from just outside the box was palmed into the path of Tony Andreu who powered the ball into the net from six-yards-out, however the midfielder was judged to be in an offside position and the goal was not given.

Next to go close for Accies was Antoine-Curier on 13 minutes when he picked up a terrific through ball from Ali Crawford 12 yards from goal but the striker was unable to score as his low effort was palmed wide for a corner by Darren Jamieson.

Livingston’s first real chance of the game came on 19 minutes when Martin Scott delivered a pin-point corner to an unmarked Keaghan Jacobs who volleyed a ball towards the far top corner, however an Accies defender was there to head the ball clear.

Barrowman gave away a penalty with over half-an-hour played when he handballed a close range Darren Mackinnon shot in the box.

21-year-old James Keating’s stood up to take the penalty and dispatched it expertly by rifling it low into the bottom corner, just past the diving finger-tips of Darren Jamieson.

Into the second-half and Accies doubled their lead through again James Keating’s on 65 minutes. An in-swinging Ali Crawford corner caused all sorts of problems in the Livingston box which gave Keating’s the chance to prod home the ball into the bottom of the net with several players from both sides all around him.

Livingston tried their best to respond but the closest they got to scoring came through substitute Mark Burchill when he found space in the Accies box to cut a ball back to South African Jacobs who from six-yards-out was only able to sky the ball over the bar and into the stand with the Livi fans.

With ten minutes of the game remaining, Accies nearly added a third through Mikey Devlin as he rose highest at the back post to head home an Ali Crawford corner, however the defenders effort was equally met by Jamieson as he comfortably collected the ball as it headed towards the top corner.

Next up for Hamilton is a trip away to Greenock Morton next Saturday while Livingston have next weekend off with Raith Rovers in Ramsdens Cup action meaning they have to wait till Saturday the 19th to face Alloa Athletic at home.

After the match, Hamilton player-manager Alex Neil thought his team were absolutely dominant against Livingston, he said: “We were great right from the start today. We have being dominant in our games this season, its just difficult sometimes as teams sit in but so far this season the team has being absolutely great. We have dominated games like we did in the first 45 minutes, probably created more chances and I think that’s more down to Livingston as they came to try and beat us rather than other teams which try to come and sit in. But I thought we were completely dominant and I thought the boys were absolutely terrific for the full 90 minutes.”

John McGlynn the Livingston manager felt Hamilton had a point to prove today with their winning performance, he added: “We never really started the game, didn’t get any rhythm, we just weren’t in the game at all. Compliments to Hamilton today, they were obviously out having lost last weekend to prove a point that they are just going to disappear from the top of the table. We just didn’t get going at all and compliments to Hamilton they were very good today and it just shows ourselves we can’t drop our standards that we have shown in the last few weeks. Today we just dropped our standards and Hamilton were on top of their game and because of that there was a bit of a gap. We can’t have any complaints with the scoreline. We are disappointed with our performance but we lick our wounds and we live to fight another day.”

Hamilton Accies: Kevin Cuthbert, Ziggy Gordon, Stephen Hendrie, Mikey Devlin, Martin Canning, Grant Gillespie, James Keatings (Eamonn Brophy), Ali Crawford, Darian Mackinnon, Tony Andreu (Craig Watson), Mickael Antoine-Curier (Jon McShane).

Subs not used: Blair Currier, Ryan Finnie, Jesus Garcia Tena, Andy Ryan.

Livingston: Darren Jamieson, Simon Mensing, Callum Fordyce, Martin Scott (Danny Denholm), Keaghan Jacobs, Burton O’Brien, Marc McNulty, Stefan Scougall (Danny Mullen), Coll Donaldson, Connor McDonald, Andy Barrowman (Mark Burchill).

Subs not used: Kevin Walker, Jason Talbot, Kyle Wilkie, Kyle Lander.

Referee: Des Roache

Attendance: 1059

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