Aberdeen desperately needed a win and a convincing display in the wake of Sunday’s capitulation to Celtic. They achieved only one of those aims, although, in the circumstances, they would probably have settled for that.
That qualified success hoists them up to fourth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership table, while Hamilton, who now have just one victory from their last ten outings, slid down to tenth position as they gear up for their annual battle against relegation.
Mickel Miller squandered a glorious early opportunity to pile the pressure on the visitors, heading wide from six yards in the fifth minute after Scott McMann had redirected Ross Cunningham’s free-kick back across the face of the goal.
Aberdeen’s leading goalscorer Sam Cosgrove, above, passed up an even better opening five minutes later. Ryan Hedges released Niall McGinn with an inch-perfect crossfield pass and the winger’s first-time cross found Cosgrove with only Owain Fon Williams to beat but the striker’s first touch was so heavy the ball trundled straight to the goalkeeper.
Hamilton came close again immediately afterwards when Joe Lewis could only parry a venomous low drive from Miller and the inrushing Cunningham overran the rebound.
Given the frantic start, a goal was inevitable and the Dons drew first blood when Hedges’ through ball was dummied by McGinn and former Accies midfielder Lewis Ferguson shrugged off a weak challenge before lashing home from an acute angle.
The hosts refused to bow the knee, however, and Aberdeen were again in debt to Lewis’s reflexes when he turned over a dipping effort from distance by Liam Smith.
Cosgrove was atypically profligate, stabbing a Ferguson cross feebly at Fon Williams from point-blank range five minutes from the interval and that miss could also have proved costly as Cunningham shaved the outside of Lewis’s right-hand post from the edge of the penalty area in Hamilton’s next attack.
McGinn then curled in a 25-yarder which beat the keeper but rebounded to safety off the crossbar in first-half stoppage time.
Aberdeen restarted without Craig Bryson, with their injury-prone summer signing from Derby County being replaced by Dean Campbell. It did not alter the pattern of play, however, with chances continuing to be created at both ends as neither side could gain control or keep the other at bay.
Scott McMann, under pressure from Andy Considine, fired over from six yards from Cunningham’s corner and then referee Willie Collum rejected a credible penalty claim from Ferguson when Sam Stubbs appeared to handle his driven cross. The Dons gradually gained the upper hand, though, and an overhead kick from Ferguson was headed off the line by teenage centre-back Jamie Hamilton.
Unfortunately for them, and in spite of all their efforts, the ball refused to break for them when they needed it to as Hamilton’s players repeatedly threw their bodies on the line to deny their opponents.
Ferguson saw another shot beaten away by Fon Williams and McGinn’s cross-shot from the rebound fizzed across the goal without a team-mate being able to provide the finishing touch.
Cosgrove finally recorded a decent attempt at goal in the 81st minute but his glancing header from Shay Logan’s cross drifted just wide of the far post. Galvanised by those escapes, Accies mounted a late assault on Lewis’s goal. An equaliser would hardly have come as a surprise – Aberdeen had dropped 15 points in their last eight visits and you need to go back to 1965/66 to find when they last didn’t drop any to last night’s opponents during a top-tier campaign – however they couldn’t provide a finish as the ball bobbed around the Dons’ penalty area.