MANY a soothsaying pundit has tipped Martin Canning’s Hamilton as probable automatic relegation candidates, and whilst there is an awful long way to go there was enough endeavour, spirit and quality on show from Accies here to suggest someone else might be for the chop.
They had the points in the bag by the interval such was the first-half battering they inflicted on United, who were indescribably dreadful.
Understandably the home manager enthused about his charges after the game. He said: “We got them right from the start, we got the goals which changed the game and the boys got the result they deserved for their tremendous work-rate.
“Hopefully people now see this is my team this season with my players even if we are playing the same style of football as Alex (Neil) did as it is the right way to play. There is a long way to go this season. We are happy so far, but we won’t get too high with the wins or too lows with the losses.”
In stark contrast United manager Jackie McNamara, who was subjected to calls for his dismissal from a section of the United fans in attendance, struggled to glean anything positive from the wreckage of a horror show from his men. He said: “The first half was as poor as we have been in my time here as we were bullied from the off and gave away goals, which you can’t do at any level.
“I can’t do anything about the chants, nothing I can say about it. It is part and parcel of the game, I have been in football long enough to know these things happen, but I was as angry as the fans were at how we played.”
If United were still nursing the psychological hangover from midweek’s Dundee derby, they found a home team in no mood to sympathise. Ali Crawford shot inches over in the opening exchanges and Gramoz Kurtaj took one touch too many when in on goal to allow Luis Zwick in the United goal to make a block.
Accies were mixing slick passing with an edge of physicality, whilst United were struggling to find any rhythm and looked like they would rather have been somewhere else. John Souttar offered a temporary break from the pressure when he saw his shot held by Michael McGovern, though it was a weak effort and little more than a blip in the pattern of play.
There was far more pep and fizz about Accies, and they thoroughly deserved to hit the front on the 20-minute mark, Crawford running with the ball before smartly firing low past Zwick from 20 yards, but the lax pass from Mark Durnan inside his own defensive third was the catalyst, and wholly symptomatic of the Taysiders’ afternoon.
Going behind failed to sting United into action as Accies continued to win every evenly contested ball, with only a superb intervention from Coll Donaldson preventing a second as the on-loan defender snuffed out Kurtaj.
Such was the one-sided nature of the encounter a second goal was inevitable. Lucas Tagliapietra climbed highest in the area to head into a gaping net with Zwick out for a wander pawing at fresh air.
By this stage United were in tatters, and Accies took full advantage by adding a third before the break. Souttar gave the ball away woefully in his own half and with the visiting defence nowhere, Carlton Morris strolled through to pick his spot.
Even the most feverishly optimistic United fan knew the game was over as a contest with little to play for after the restart other than a bid to restore a scintilla of pride. Simon Murray and Blair Spittal had efforts McGovern had to deal with, but even against a home team coasting in second gear they failed to ever really make inroads towards winning back their clearly disgruntled followers.
The mood of the United faithful on their long trek home worsened still inside stoppage time. Kurtaj, who impressed throughout the contest, had an astonishing amount of time and space to pick out Christian Nade with a pass and the recently introduced sub swept home.
Hamilton: McGovern, Gordon, Tagliapietra (Watson 64), Tena, Kurakins, Gillespie, Imrie (Longridge 81), Crawford, McKinnon, Kurtaj, Morris (Nade 70). Subs not used: Martin, MacDonald, Docherty, Boyd.
Dundee Utd: Zwick, McGowan, Donaldson, Durnan, Dixon, Rankin, Souttar, Spittal, Bodul (Connolly 59), Erskine, Murray (Muirhead 59). Subs not used: McCallum, Dillon, Telfer, Lochhead, Fraser.
Referee: S McLean.