Hamilton 1-0 Aberdeen: Mikey Devlin stuns Dons

Hamilton's Mikey Devlin (No 4) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring what proved to be the winning goal against Aberdeen. Picture: SNS Group
Hamilton's Mikey Devlin (No 4) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring what proved to be the winning goal against Aberdeen. Picture: SNS Group
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Hamilton warmed up for their Scottish Cup quarter-final against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday by defeating an Aberdeen side which had won ten of their previous 11 games.

Then again, the plastic pitch at New Douglas Park clearly does not appeal to Derek McInnes’ men, who have won only one of their last six matches there.

While they remain nine points clear of third-placed Rangers, this was an opportunity missed by the Dons against opponents who played the last seven minutes with ten men following the dismissal of Darian MacKinnon.

The result lifts Hamilton from bottom place to ninth, with Inverness Caledonian Thistle now replacing them in the automatic relegation slot and Motherwell dropping into the play-off position.

Hamilton beat Aberdeen with a hotly-disputed penalty kick by Alex D’Acol in October and the visitors were undone by another set-piece in the ninth minute last night.

The Dons had appeared to be in control until Ryan Christie went in late on Georgios Sarris as the Greek attempted to punt the ball into the 18-yard box.

Danny Redmond took the resulting free-kick and McInnes will want to know how Mikey Devlin got goal side of Ash Taylor to volley Redmond’s sumptuous delivery past Joe Lewis.

Aberdeen attempted to hit back immediately but Adam Rooney had still to find his range with two efforts from distance. He came agonisingly close to an equaliser in the 21st minute, however, when his glancing header from Niall McGinn’s delivery caught Gary Woods flat-footed but bounced back out from the inside of his left-hand post.

McGinn came close himself with an angled drive six minutes later as Hamilton were forced on to the back foot.

The winger came closer with a free-kick which dipped later than he would have liked and ended up on top of the net.

Rooney was inches away from connecting with Christie’s driven cross as Hamilton struggled to get on the ball, never mind cross the halfway line. Yet the goal they sought and deserved refused to come and, against all odds, Accies went in for their half-time beverage a goal to the good.

Given that Lewis had had nothing to do before or after picking the ball out of his net during the first half, the decision to withdraw central defender Mark Reynolds in favour of midfielder Peter Pawlett was a no-brainer.

Unsurprisingly, Aberdeen seized the initiative once again and Woods did well to push out a well-struck shot by Kenny McLean, who had manufactured the opening along with McGinn.

Rakish Bingham did have a shot from the edge of the area saved by Lewis but that was a rare respite, with the traffic mainly flowing in the other direction. Aberdeen continued to shell crosses into the danger zone but, sometimes more by luck than judgment, Hamilton remained in front.

Devlin played a captain’s part when he defied physics to clear Shay Logan’s goalbound header from McLean’s inviting cross from underneath his crossbar.

Graeme Shinnie collected the first caution of the evening for a lunge on Ioannis Skondras and the Dons were frustrated again 14 minutes from time when substitute Miles Storey had the ball in the net but his effort was disallowed for offside.

MacKinnon was sent off for two bookable offences in the space of 30 seconds, both fouls on Shinnie. Aberdeen intensified the pressure on Woods’ goal but cross after cross was headed away and shots were blocked as Accies held out.

The Lanarkshire club have not lost at home since 24 December and this win, only their fourth of a troubled campaign, will boost their prospects of retaining their top-tier status. Aberdeen, for their part, will not dominate a game as completely as this without taking anything from it for quite some time to come.