Hamilton Accies diced with calamity against Edinburgh City last night before fighting back from two goals down to stay on course for the second round of the Betfred Cup.
Manager Martin Canning, who has had a precarious relationship with his team’s supporters for some time now, must have feared the worst when his team, who lost their opening match in this tournament away to Ayr United, trailed League 2 new boys by two goals within the opening 20 minutes.
However, they rallied impressively to save face and record the victory they needed to keep their hopes of progression alive. The Premiership side now know that a home win over League 2 outfit Livingston will almost certainly ensure they pip Ayr to top spot in Group G.
Edinburgh City, who had been looking to pick up their first Betfred Cup points, yesterday signed former Celtic, Hearts and Scotland striker Craig Beattie on a one-year contract, but the 32-year-old wasn’t included in last night’s squad.
On a pleasant evening in the capital, Hamilton threatened after six minutes but Jordan McGregor headed harmlessly over after meeting an Ali Crawford corner at the front post.
City almost went ahead in the 17th minute when Ross Allum unleashed a dipping half volley from just outside the box which was brilliantly tipped over by Remi Matthews. The capital side took the lead from the resulting corner when Mark McConnell saw his header knocked off the line by Accies defender Grant Gillespie and Allum was perfectly placed to rasp in the rebound from ten yards out.
Things got even worse for the top-flight side two minutes later when Allum was left totally unmarked at the back post to thump home from five yards out after McConnell’s cross from the right wasn’t cut out by the Accies defence.
At that point, Canning was staring at a crisis and the visiting fans weren’t slow to vent their anger at their team.
However, Hamilton responded strongly. Within three minutes they pulled one back when Crawford pinged in a magnificent free-kick from 30 yards out. And they equalised five minutes later when Alex D’Acol slotted home his first goal for the club from six yards out after Louis Longridge had knocked Greg Docherty’s cross from the right into his path.
Accies were clearly relieved to have staved off a potential embarrassment and they almost went ahead in 38 minutes but Crawford’s free-kick from 25 yards out was saved by Andrew Stobie.
The visitors went even closer right on half-time when McConnell sent a headed clearance crashing against his own crossbar.
After enjoying the bulk of the play early in the second half, Hamilton eventually went ahead in the 65th minute. Crawford clipped a free-kick out to Longridge on the left of the penalty box and his powerful low delivery across the face of goal was knocked into the net from a yard out by McGregor.
City’s challenge was snuffed out five minutes later when Hamilton captain Dougie Imrie converted a penalty after McConnell tripped Gillespie as he surged dangerously into the box.