ST MIRREN’S long-suffering supporters called for manager Tommy Craig to go following this latest defeat, which leaves them stuck in the play-off position.
The club’s chairman, Stewart Gilmour, was not at the match and three other directors left soon after Hamilton scored their third goal.
Defeat increases the pressure on Craig, whose players were jeered off the pitch at the final whistle, but he refused to discuss the fans’ reaction.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. “It was a poor game until they scored and then they were dominant in the second half.
“But, if we play the way I know we can, then I know we’ll be okay. We’re making it harder for ourselves as games go by and people want to talk about pressure, but I’ve got a job to do and we’ll be back in on Monday morning ready to do it again.”
Craig rang the changes for this match, replacing one former Hearts goalkeeper, Marian Kello, with another, Marc Ridgers, who was making his debut for the Buddies, as were Academy graduates Jack Baird and Stevie Mallan.
Craig also experimented with a new formation, but it was the hosts who set the pace and Ali Crawford went close with a low, 20-yard drive in the sixth minute.
Accies threatened again when Dougie Imrie stole in to nick the ball over Ridgers as he left his line to collect a curling cross from Danny Redmond. Unfortunately for the midfielder, his shot cleared the crossbar.
Accies goalkeepr Michael McGovern was called into action midway through the first half when he was at full stretch to turn behind a venomous drive from Sean Kelly.
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The visitors gradually established a toe-hold in the game, though, and both Grant Gillespie and Crawford were cautioned for late lunges on Kenny McLean.
However, just as they began to grow in confidence, Saints fell behind to a sucker punch five minutes before half-time. Crawford latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the area and supplied Anthony Andreu, who beat Ridgers low to his right with a well-placed shot.
The goal appeared to settle the home side’s nerves and Andreu could have added a second in the 48th minute when he headed over from point-blank range after being picked out by Mickael Antoine-Curier’s sumptuous cross.
Antoine-Curier should have supplied his side with a two-goal cushion but inexplicably took a fresh-air swipe at the ball after Martin Canning had nodded a Redmond corner back across goal. By now Saints were in disarray, while Accies looked capable of scoring with each attack, and Redmond sent a glancing header just wide from Stephen Hendrie’s pacy delivery.
Ridgers then made an outstanding save when he turned over a shot from Antoine-Curier, by which time Craig’s men appeared intent on no more than damage limitation.
A second Accies’ goal was inevitable and it finally arrived midway through the second period. Redmond burst to the byline and cut the ball back for Andreu. His shot was parried by Ridgers, but Antoine-Curier lashed home the rebound.
That strike was greeted with dismay by the visiting fans, who chanted: “You don’t know what you’re doing” at the hapless Craig.
Crawford darkened their mood still further when he scored his sixth goal of the season, firing home after an Antoine-Curier cross, intended for Andreu, had taken a benign deflection and fell straight into his path.
“That’s my third goal against them this season,” said the midfielder. “I wish I could play them every week.”
Saints threatened more often after that strike than they had before it. McLean and Adam Brown both struck the crossbar and McGovern produced a fine reflex save to deny James Marwood, but it is difficult to see how the Paisley side get out of a rut which has seen them take just one point from their last five outings.
Accies are back in the ascendancy, though, and manager Alex Neil was delighted with their showing. “We were totally dominant and we deserved to win the game,” he said.
Hamilton: McGovern, Gordon, Canning, Tena, Hendrie, Gillespie, Andreu (Longridge 80), Redmond (MacKinnon 83), Crawford, Imrie, Antoine-Curier (Scotland 85). Subs not used: Currie, Devlin, Routledge, Neil. Booked: Gillespie, Crawford. Goals: Andreu 40; Antoine-Curier 67; Crawford 74.
St Mirren: Ridgers, Naismith, Baird, McAusland, Tesselaar, Drury (Brown 72), Reilly, Mallan (Marwood 68), McLean, Kelly, Caldwell (Ball 69). Subs not used: Kello, Williams, Teale, Morgan.
Ref: G Aitken
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