Hamilton Academical 0 - 1 Dundee: Paul Hartley hails victory
Hamilton's familiar failings in front of their own fans returned to haunt them yesterday. On a day when victory would have seen them move eight points clear of their opponents, their dismal display suggested that Tuesday's unexpected victory over Aberdeen was the exception and this was the rule.
The day belonged to the visitors, however. Without a league win in over two months, this rugged performance earned them the result they had craved, one which lifted them to within one point of second-bottom Ross County.
Manager Paul Hartley was in no doubt about the importance of the result. “This is a difficult venue and probably nobody fancied us today – Hamilton probably thought we were going to come here and that we were going to be soft and that we were going to roll over,” he said.
“Well, we didn’t. We came with fight, desire and determination. There’s along way to go – we’ve had a bad first quarter but we’ve started the second quarter with a result so we have to do that every week.”
The visitors squandered an opportunity to break the deadlock in their first foray upfield. Defender Julen Extabeguren was the offender on this occasion, heading weakly wide after finding himself unmarked and on the end of Tom Hateley’s corner.
Of course, clinical finishing requires confidence, a commodity which has been in short supply at Dens Park this season.
Craig Wighton underlined that fact when, after Hamilton allowed him to travel half the length of the pitch with the ball at his feet, the striker pulled his shot wide as Gary Woods left his line to reduce the angle.
Surprisingly, given their recent wretched run, it was Dundee who were playing the better football and creating most of the chances.
However, Marcus Haber, practically the dictionary definition of the false No.9, failed to hit the target from six yards after being picked out by Wighton’s inviting cross.
Greg Docherty forced a save from David Mitchell but Haber was the unlikely hero when Dundee opened the scoring.
Paul McGowan claimed the goal but Woods looked certain to save the playmaker’s low drive from the edge of the penalty area until Haber stuck out a foot to deflect it behind the goalkeeper.
Even so, the midfielder will be credited with the winner. “It’s Paul’s goal – we had a chat about it in the dressing-room,” said Hartley. “We needed that little bit of luck because we had chances in the first-half and we were thinking it was going to be the same old story of us not taking them.”
Haber might have had one of his own but, after being released by Kevin Holt’s slide-rule pass, Woods parried the striker’s left-foot shot and Michael Devlin threw himself in front of Wighton’s attempt from the rebound.
Hamilton’s best chance to salvage a point fell to substitute Danny Redmond but he declined several opportunities to shoot while attempting to find a more favourable angle and was eventually crowded out.
The result leaves Dundee just one point behind Ross County in 11th and two away from Hamilton in tenth. Accies manager Martin Canning was not happy.
“When you see two teams lining up in a similar formation it’s going to be who wins the battle,” he said. “Did we do enough to win the game? Definitely not. Did we deserve to lose? Probably not but we have done.
“There’s no point in them getting themselves up for Aberdeen, Celtic or Rangers coming here but letting Dundee leave with all three points.”