TEENAGER Craig Watson came off the bench to be Hamilton’s hero in a dramatic penalty shootout and fire Alex Neil’s side into the last eight of the League Cup.
Hamilton win 6-5 on penalties
After neither team could break the deadlock in normal time and extra time, it took sudden death on penalties to separate the sides.
Grant Gillespie, Ali Crawford, Michael Devlin, Louis Longridge and Dougie Imrie were all successful in the shootout for Accies as were Motherwell’s John Sutton, Stephen McManus, Henrik Ojamaa, Jack Leitch and Josh Law. It took a terrific save from Michael McGovern from luckless Simon Ramsden to give Watson the chance to step up and be a hero. And he grabbed his opportunity.
Accies were a delight to watch on the night, with a fast, adventurous approach which almost paid off on 16 minutes when Tony Andreu clipped the ball to his left for Crawford, but Mark O’Brien made a timely block as the winger’s first-time effort looked net-bound. Then Danny Redmond dispossessed Keith Lasley after 25 minutes and Longridge, in support, cracked a 20-yard curling effort just off target. One minute later, he found his direction from the same distance, but Motherwell goalkeeper Dan Twardzik threw himself high to his left to save.
Motherwell had to wait 34 minutes for their first attack when Lionel Ainsworth set up Leitch, but his left-foot 25-yard effort drifted wide. Two minutes later, Sutton headed over from a Lasley corner from the right as Motherwell finally came to life.
Right on half-time O’Brien launched a reckless challenge on Eamonn Brophy and ran straight down the tunnel, but it emerged he was shown a yellow during the break by referee Craig Charleston. Accies continued to look the more threatening but their hopes of progressing were dealt a blow in 66 minutes when Stephen Hendrie, booked just before the break, was sent off for barging Ainsworth.
Motherwell used the extra space to their advantage and, in 72 minutes, might have gone in front when Sutton got on the end of Fraser Kerr’s cross but the striker swept the ball wide.
The same pair combined again three minutes later but this time Sutton’s thunderous 12-yard volley was brilliantly saved by McGovern.
Both side’s were desperate to win the match in normal time. Accies burst forward on the counter attack in 77 minutes with Longridge finding Crawford with time and space, but Twardzik got down to save.
In 95 minutes Accies had an incredible escape when first Law cracked a 16-yard drive off the underside of the bar, and with an open goal, Ainsworth, following up hit the post.
It was all even in the numerical stakes 12 minutes into extra time when O’Brien was shown red, having already been booked, after a needless block on Crawford as he ran through.