Saturday 17 March 2012

Livingston 0 - 4 Hamilton Academical
HT (0 - 3)

With a well deserved win recorded at Cappielow the week before, it was back to home soil for the Lions as Hamilton visited the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium.

John Hughes opted to make one change to that winning line-up with Michael Scott dropping out to make way for the fit again Stefan Scougall.

Hughes would have been hoping the players would pick up from where they left off against Morton and take the game to the Accies, but that hope would be dashed with only three minutes on the clock. Martin Canning’s long free-kick forward wasn’t dealt with by the Livi defence and on-loan striker Jon McShane was able to collect the ball and fire low past McNeil.

It was exactly the start you don’t want and things didn’t get much better. Jason Talbot collected the ball at left back and as he drove forward, his final touch ran away from him and with Alex Neil sliding in to make the block, Talbot lunged in, catching Neil with both feet. Referee Stevie O’Reilly was placed right in front of the tackle and had no hesitation in issuing a red card.

To make matters even worse, only 90 seconds after Talbot left the game, Hamilton doubled their advantage. Simon Mensing found Neil in the middle of the park and the Accies captain played a brilliant ball over the Livi defence for Daniel Redmond to control on his chest and rifle past McNeil for 2-0.

Two goals behind and down to ten men with only fifteen minutes played, a long afternoon lay ahead. If that wasn’t bad enough, a third Hamilton goal was to show that even luck wasn’t on our side. Jon Routledge collected the ball in the midfield and drove forward before curling a shot goalwards from 25 yards. It looked harmless, but as McNeil got down to make the save, the ball took a horrendous bobble and looped up and over the despairing ‘keeper and nestled in the net.

It could have been four before half time after a brilliant ball from Andrew Ryan found McShane free in the box but his first touch let him down and he fired straight at McNeil from a tight angle.

Into the second half and to give credit where it’s due, Livi continued to battle on, desperately hoping that they could somehow haul themselves back into the game.

Kevin McCann and Keaghan Jacobs linked up with the latter sending Iain Russell through on goal but he shot straight at David Hutton in the Accies goal before Mark McLaughlin blocked Rory Boulding from latching onto the rebound.

Up the other end, Hamilton continued to press for more goals and substitute Mark Stewart was desperately unlucky not to get on the score sheet. A good run from Greig Spence was followed by a cross into the box which Stewart headed goalwards but McNeil somehow managed to make a diving save, tipping the ball onto the bar before Kyle Jacobs cleared to safety.

Despite that save, Hamilton did put the gloss on the win and grabbed a fourth goal as the game neared an end. Routledge went on another tricky run from the right, evading challenges from Kyle, Keaghan and Paul Watson before thumping a shot from 20 yards beyond McNeil.

McNeil, McCann, Watson, C.Barr, Talbot, B.Barr (A.Russell 61 (Boulding 76)), Ky.Jacobs, Scougall, Kn.Jacobs, I.Russell, McNulty (Docherty 71)
Subs not used: Fordyce, Jamieson

Hamilton Academical:
Hutton, McAlister, Canning, McLaughlin (Stewart 53), Kilday, Redmond, Neil, Mensing, Ryan (Spence 70), Routledge, McShane (Gillespie 53)
Subs not used: Currie, Anderson

Att: 1066

Ref: S O'Reilly

Match report by Dave Black