Hamilton took full advantage of Celtic’s recent absence from the SPFL Development League, to take a four point lead at the top of the table, writes Martin McConnell.
Two first half goals from Andy Ryan, playing his first game for Hamilton after a loan spell with Arbroath, proving to be the difference between the sides.
The opening quarter of an hour was dire, with both sides tentative and showing no real desire to pose a threat on goal. When the first attempt on goal came, it was a poorly taken free kick from one of the league’s most creative players. Steven Boyd dinked the ball over the Hearts wall from twenty two yards, and softly into the arms of Jack Hamilton.
Then everything happened at once. The ball was played from the back to Tierney in midfield, he quickly played a quick one two with Andy Ryan, ran on goal and sent a warning shot a foot wide of the back post. Accies then went one up after Boyd played the ball to Ryan inside the Hearts penalty area, he calmly hammered into the net from ten yards, 1-0.
Minutes later Ryan shot one over the cross bar from twenty yards, Louis Longridge then made a decent run before sending his effort a little too high to test the keeper. Ryan got his second of the evening on the half hour after Boyd sent the ball into the Hearts penalty area, no one cleared and Ryan ran in shot from six yards, 2-0.
This seemed to wake Hearts from their slumber, but it was a pity that it had taken two goals to do so. Hearts broke forward in numbers, Lewis Moore played wide to Callum Robinson who shot over the cross bar from a wide position. Moore wasn’t happy, he had been expecting it back.
Hearts Canadian striker Dario Zanatta, made a strong run before unleashing wide of the post from twenty two yards. Hearts then won a free kick out wide, the ball was swung in for Zanatta to out jump the Accies defence and head inches past the post.
Hamilton immediately had the ball back up the pitch, Scott McMann threaded the ball perfectly through two defenders and straight to the feet of Ryan, the Hamilton striker turned and shot from ten yards, but Jack Hamilton was able to make a good last gasp save.
As half time approached ,the ball was played up field to Moore who cut the ball back from the bye line to Zanatta, he struck a thunderous shot from ten yards but was denied by a magnificent Alan Martin save that sent the ball over the cross bar. From corner, Robbie Buchanan headed his chance over the cross bar from six yards.
Accies almost made it three when the ball was played forward to Boyd, he shot from twelve and the keeper saved but couldn’t hold. Boyd raced forward to slot in the rebound, but lost the race to Leon Jones who got there first and cleared up field. The Hearts keeper saved the day once again, after the ball was swung in for Tierney to head on target, but Hamilton managed to knock over the bar.
Ronan Hughes split the Hearts defence with a ball through for Ryan to run on to, the striker ran in and let loose just as Jack Hamilton bravely threw himself in front of the ball, fifteen yards from his goal. Lewis Moore then ran up field and unleashed on the Hamilton goal from twenty yards, forcing Alan Martin into making another great save.
Hearts were still searching for that elusive goal into injury time when they were awarded a free kick, Ian Smith flighted the ball to the back post, Daniel Baur out jumped the Accies defence and headed wide of the back post.
Hamilton Accies: Martin, Reilly, McMann, Want, Canning, Hughes, Ryan (Scullion 81), Turner, Tierney (Kelly 72), Boyd, Longridge (Cunningham 61). Subs Unused: Simpson, Granger, Connelly, Marshall.
Hearts: Hamilton, L Smith (Flanagan 80), Henderson, Baur, Jones, Beith (McKirdy 61), Morrison, Buchanan, I Smith, Zanatta (McLean 86), Moore. Subs Unused: Baker, K Smith, Fisher.