Hamilton 0-2 Inverness: Struggle ahead for Hamilton

THE sun was shining and the disposition of John Hughes matched the weather as his side left Lanarkshire for the Highlands with all three points.

Gary Warren and Louis Longridge battle for possession. Picture: SNS


Inverness: W.McKay 10, R.Christie 25

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It was an impressive enough performance from Thistle, although they did not need to be more than competent to prevail on this occasion.

They were certainly that, which is more than can be said for the Premiership new boys. This was the death of a thousand cuts for Accies, all of them self-inflicted wounds.

Errors pock-marked their performance, especially during the opening 45 minutes when they appeared to be hell-bent on committing soccer suicide.

If they are looking to take positives from this comprehensive defeat, they can console themselves with a much-improved second-half display, but Inverness had taken their foot off the pedal and were cruising to victory by then.

Unusually, the visitors’ starting line-up did not contain a single new face, with the only summer signing – former Hibs and Blyth Spartans midfielder Lewis Horner – on the bench.

Yet there was little sign of familiarity breeding contempt, except, perhaps, in the size of the tiny

travelling support.

That band may increase in numbers, however, if Thistle continue to perform as impressively as this on their travels.

Of course, Hughes’ side are unlikely to meet many opponents who are quite as accommodating as Accies were here.

On an afternoon where dilatory defending appeared to be compulsory, the hosts started as they meant to go on in the sixth minute.

Right-back Ziggy Gordon, under no pressure, allowed himself to be dispossessed by Billy McKay, who played a reverse pass with Danny Williams before releasing Ryan Christie in space.

The highly-rated 19-year-old had time to take a touch but instead snatched at the opening and scuffed his effort high and wide.

It hardly mattered. The dam burst four minutes later when Mikey Devlin, attempting to play the ball back to Michael McGovern with his knee, failed to gain enough purchase on the ball.

McKay, Thistle’s top scorer last season, did not need to be asked twice, nipping in to lob home from 15 yards as the goalkeeper left his line.

Left-back Stephen Hendrie was also at fault, conceding possession cheaply to the industrious McKay, who teed up a shot for Christie which McGovern was able to keep out.

However, he was left exposed once more when Louis Longridge continued the kamikaze defending, carelessly giving the ball away 40 yards from his own goal.

It was quickly switched from Ross Draper to Williams and, although McGovern managed to parry his effort, the unmarked Christie was on hand to convert the rebound from point-blank range.

When your luck is out it’s out and player-manager Alex Neil then appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball when he sent a header

wide from a Danny Redmond free kick.

The home side’s frustration was evinced by former Thistle player Dougie Imrie, who collected a yellow card for a foul on Graeme Shinnie.

New signing Danny Redmond blazed over from 12 yards after being set up by Dougie Imrie and Dean Brill dealt capably with Accies’ first shot on target, a low 20-yarder from Longridge in the 42nd minute.

Longridge took no part in the second half, replaced by Ali Crawford, but he was only one of several players who could not have complained if they had been substituted.

Imrie saw a header from Hendrie’s cross comfortably saved by Brill but McGovern had to be at his best to deny Greg Tansey from the edge of the penalty area.

The belated introduction of former Hibernian striker Mickael Antoine-Curier at least provided the hosts with a physical presence up front and he immediately proved to be more dangerous than Jason Scotland with a well-struck angled drive which Brill was happy to turn behind.

Even so, Inverness continued to look the more dangerous side and, barely a minute after replacing James Vincent, Marley Watkins lashed a shot from 15 yards off the underside of the crossbar.