HAMILTON moved four points clear at the top of the Premiership after a sensational victory over Aberdeen last night at New Douglas Park.
Scorers: Hamilton Academical - Andreu (15, 53), Antoine-Curier (90)
At the same time, Accies’ victory gave them 23 points from ten games, the best ever start of a newly-promoted top-flight side.
Two goals by French midfielder Tony Andreu, one in each half, and one in the final minute by Mickaël Antoine-Curier was enough to end Aberdeen’s five-game unbeaten run and further enhance Accies’credentials as more than credible league leaders.
The in-form Dons arrived at New Douglas Park having won on 11 of their last 14 visits to Hamilton, losing just once. But this was a different Accies outfit they faced, which last night attracted no fewer than 20 scouts from south of the border, such is the wide interest in Alex Neil’s table toppers.
Midfielder Darian MacKinnon returned to the Accies squad after serving a four-match ban for elbowing Dundee United’s Paul Paton last month, but could only find a place on the bench, such is the depth of squad of outstanding youngsters Neil has assembled.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes made two changes from the side which defeated Dundee 3-2 before the international break, with Ryan Jack making an earlier return than expected after suffering a medial ligament tear, while Barry Robson came in for Peter Pawlett, who was relegated to the bench.
There was also a switch in defence for the Dons, with Andrew Considine going into the central defensive role and Mark Reynolds switching to left-back.
Accies, full of confidence at the top of the Premiership table, almost made a thrilling start after just two minutes when Danny Redmond burst down the left and his cross to Dougie Imrie looked perfectly weighted 12 yards out in front of goal, but Reynolds made a brilliant interception.
But there was nothing the Dons could do when Andreu put Accies in front after 15 minutes. Antoine-Curier’s cross was deflected by defender Shaleum Logan, goalkeeper Jamie Langfield failed to clear and Andreu, four yards out, hooked the ball into the empty net.
Aberdeen should have levelled after 22 minutes when Andreu’s 25-yard low drive was blocked by Considine, with the ball flying downfield and putting Adam Rooney in the clear in bizarre circumstances, but Accies goalkeeper Michael McGovern saved well to his right. Two minutes later, David Goodwillie raced through on goal after a superb ball by Barry Robson, but McGovern was again the hero for the Lanarkshire side.
Accies had strong claims for a penalty waved away in 31 minutes when Robson appeared to handle an Antoine-Curier attempted cross. Neil’s side were a delight to watch with their fast-flowing, adventurous and inventive approach and might have scored a deserved second deep into stoppage time at the end of the first period when Antoine-Curier linked with Ali Crawford, but the diminutive striker’s low 18-yard effort was well saved by Langfield.
In a positive move, the Dons brought on Pawlett for Considine at the start of the second half, but it didn’t knock Accies off of their stride and in 48 minutes Langfield did well to beat away a long-range effort by Redmond.
Aberdeen looked much more threatening in the second period and in 51 minutes Reynolds was just off target with his back-post header after getting on the end of a Robson free kick from the right. It was to prove a false dawn. Accies scored a stunning second in 53 minutes when Andreu started the move with a darting run down the middle before picking out Redmond on the left. Andreu continued his run and took a return pass before dispatching it into the far corner of the net from 12 yards.
Aberdeen should have pulled one back in 73 minutes when Willo Flood and Goodwillie combined on the left, but Rooney headed tamely across the face of the goal with the net gaping.
Three minutes later, the Dons came close again when lively substitute Niall McGinn was just off the mark with a 25-yard curling free kick.
But Accies wrapped up the points and improved their position at the top in the final minute when Ziggy Gordon sent Crawford down the right and his cross found Antoine-Curier, who volleyed home from ten yards.
Hamilton: McGovern, Gordon, Hendrie, Devlin, Gillespie, Imrie, Crawford, Andreu (Longridge 84), Garcia Tena, Redmond (MacKinnon 72), Antoine Curier (Ryan 90). Subs not used: Hill, Scotland, Neil, Watson.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Logan, Considine (Pawlett 46), Taylor, Reynolds, Flood, Hayes, Robson (McGinn 68), Rooney (Shankland 86), Goodwillie, Jack. Subs not used: Brown, Monakana, Smith, Low.