HAMILTON Accies produced a sparkling display in a New Douglas Park downpour to complete a derby double over their near neighbours.
Scorers: Hamilton: Imrie 8, Crawford 29, Antoine-Curier 64, Andreu 69, Redmond 87
Motherwell had made the short trip seeking to avenge a 4-0 defeat earlier in the season but instead found Hamilton to be the most inhospitable of Ne’erday hosts, scoring one more on this occasion to equal the margin of their biggest-ever win against the Steelmen, a 6-1 victory in season 1934-35.
Alex Neil, Accies player-manager, declared: “It doesn’t get much better than this. The performance was first-class from start to finish – we scored five goals, kept a clean sheet and restricted them to very few chances.
“I think it’s as complete a performance as we’ve put in and we could even have scored more.”
Dougie Imrie set the tone for a dominant Accies display with an enterprising run from halfway that concluded with his firm shot being deflected for a corner.
Ali Crawford’s flag kick presented Neil with a free header but the player-manager’s effort was blocked on the line while Hamilton’s claims for handball met with indifference from referee Crawford Allan.
Hamilton had to be content with a second corner and it again almost brought the opener as Mikey Devlin’s netbound header was hooked off the line by Josh Law.
The Steelmen suffered a setback when Simon Ramsden was forced off to be replaced by Lee Erwin and their worries intensified when Accies deservedly went ahead within a minute.
Tony Andreu’s deft pass sent Imrie racing clear and the striker drilled a left-foot shot low into the right corner of Dan Twardzik’s net.
It was the first goal the Fir Park side had conceded in three matches and they looked in danger of falling further behind as Accies continued to set the pace. However, the visitors eventually revealed some attacking intentions of their own, Henrik Ojamaa picking out Erwin whose shot was deflected for a corner by Martin Canning.
Ojamaa burst forward again with real purpose only to see his shot brush a defender on its way past the post.
At the other end, a poor clearance by Dan Twardzik went unpunished when Andreu was unable to keep his effort on target with the keeper stranded.
Andreu was then denied by Twardzik’s diving save before Hamilton’s superiority was emphasised by a second goal. Andreu was thwarted again when his shot from Imrie’s pass was brilliantly parried by Twardzik but Crawford followed up to rifle the rebound high into the net. It could have been even worse for ’Well on the stroke of half-time when another incisive passing movement ripped open their defence again but on this occasion Mickael Antoine-Curier fired inches over.
Antoine-Curier went even closer after the restart when, released by Crawford, he saw his shot rebound from the base of a post. There was, though, more urgency from Motherwell and, in Lionel Ainsworth they had a player of increasing influence with several pacy runs down the right flank.
A series of half-chances were then spurned before Accies made the points safe. Crawford released Antoine-Curier who showed the composure which had eluded him earlier to score from close range.
The effort sparked a mass exodus from the stand which housed the ’Well supporters and those who left were spared the further punishment of witnessing Andreu sweep in the fourth from another Crawford assist.
Even fewer remained to see substitute Danny Redmond complete the punishment two minutes from time.
Neil, whose young stars will attract interest during the January transfer window, added: “That is honestly not a concern for me.
“My job is to give them a platform and it is only natural that they want to move on to bigger and better things so if somebody comes in with an offer that is acceptable I’ll be happy. But if they don’t I’ll be even happier!”
Dejected Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough made no excuses for his side’s dismal display and denied that a faulty bank of floodlights which delayed the start of the second half had offered an opportunity to avoid defeat.
He said: “Alex got everything out of his players. They fought for every ball and came out top in every area.
“You have to win your individual battles and roll up your sleeves but we didn’t do that and gave ourselve s a mountain to climb. We were told at half-time that the second half would be delayed because of the floodlight failure and although they continued to go on and off it didn’t make any difference to the outcome.”
Hamilton: McGovern; Hendrie, Devlin, Canning, Gillespie, Imrie, Neil (Routledge 55), Crawford, Mackinnon, Andreu (Redmond 84), Antoine Curier (Brophy 77). Subs not used: Scotland, Longridge, Garcia Tena, Hill.
Motherwell: Twardzik; Reid, Hammell (Cadden 46), Ramsden (Erwin 8), McManus, Ainsworth (Thomas 76), Sutton, Lasley, Law, Kerr, Ojamaa. Subs not used: Cummins, Ferguson, MacLean, Nielsen