Hamilton 2-1 St Johnstone: George Oakley grabs debut double as Accies stun Saints

George Oakley takes the plaudits after scoring the opener. Picture: SNS GroupGeorge Oakley takes the plaudits after scoring the opener. Picture: SNS Group
George Oakley takes the plaudits after scoring the opener. Picture: SNS Group
New signing George Oakley scored twice as Hamilton boosted their Ladbrokes Premiership survival hopes with a 2-1 win over St Johnstone.

The striker, a deadline-day signing from Inverness, scored a second-half double as Hamilton ended a nine-game winless run to pick up three precious points in their battle to beat the drop.

The victory was new Accies head coach Brian Rice’s first since replacing Martin Canning in the dugout, moving them six points clear of bottom club St Mirren and three ahead of Dundee in the relegation play-off place.

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Oakley fired Hamilton ahead after 68 minutes but that was cancelled out by Liam Craig.

Accies, however, were not to be denied and just two minutes after Craig’s strike Oakley sealed a vital win.

Hamilton made a positive start as Darian MacKinnon delivered a dangerous cross that St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark punched clear before Steven Davies had the chance to head home.

St Johnstone had lost three on the bounce going into this encounter at the Hope CBD Stadium and Accies goalkeeper Gary Woods denied Craig the opener with a smart stop.

Saints skipper Joe Shaughnessy spurned a good chance when he sent a free header over from a Sean Goss free-kick.

Hamilton’s Steven Boyd had a couple of opportunities but he screwed a snap-shot wide after Davies chested it into his path and then forced Clark into a save with a 25-yard drive.

St Johnstone striker Tony Watt threatened when he gathered a Scott Tanser cross inside Accies’ penalty area, spun and drilled a low shot narrowly wide.

After the interval Matty Kennedy came close to capitalising on an error from Lenny Sowah, who was short with a header back to keeper Woods, but the Saints attacker lofted his effort just over the bar.

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Kennedy then threatened with a terrific curling effort from the edge of the penalty area that went inches wide.

Boyd almost caught out Clark when his free-kick deflected off the top of the wall to wrong foot the goalkeeper but went just over.

Hamilton made the crucial breakthrough after 68 minutes as Oakley fired them ahead.

Sub Mikel Miller created the opportunity with some great play inside the area as he made space, darted to the by-line and drilled in a low cross that was deftly finished off from close range by Oakley.

Saints drew level after 77 minutes when sub Chris Kane went past Matt Kilgallon inside the area and fired a low ball across to the unmarked Craig, who side-footed home.

Hamilton, however, had an instant response and reclaimed the lead two minutes later as Oakley scored his second of the game.

Saints goalkeeper Clark’s poor clearance was picked up by MacKinnon and he found Tony Andreu. The Accies sub then delivered an inviting cross into the area for Oakley to produce another clinical finish.