St Mirren 0-2 Hamilton: Buddies downed by Hamilton
St Mirren - 0
Hamilton Accies - 2 Crawford (19, 51)
Referee: Alan Muir
Hamilton, by contrast, produced a reversal of fortunes to claim a thoroughly merited victory and Ali Crawford’s two goals were scant reward for their superiority.
Saints manager Craig awarded 19-year-old Adam Craig his first start in place of suspended club captain Jim Goodwin while Alex Neil replaced Mikey Devlin, Stephen Hendrie, Louis Longridge and Jason Scotland with Jesus Garcia Tena, Darian Mackinnon, Ali Crawford and former Hibs striker Mickael Antoine-Curier respectively from the side which capitulated to Inverness at the weekend.
Those changes paid off, with Accies looking much more compact than they had on the opening day and their fortunes took a turn for the better when they broke the deadlock after 19 minutes.
A long punt out of defence appeared to transfix the home rearguard and McAusland stood off Ali Crawford as he collected the ball and carried it forward unchallenged before sending a low, left-foot drive behind Marian Kello from 20 yards.
The hosts responded with an angled drive from Brown which Tena cleared off the line but, back at the other end, it required a goal-saving block from Jeroen Tesselaar to deny Dougie Imrie.
Gillespie was cautioned for a foul on James Marwood shortly before the break but, by and large, Accies were coping comfortably with the home side’s probing.
Their comfort zone increased shortly after the break.
Although Antoine-Curier passed up a glorious opportunity to add a second goal when he sliced a shot wide after Danny Redmond’s cross had left him with only Kello to beat, the two-goal cushion soon arrived.
Once again, it was as a result of desultory defending. Ellis Plummer, on loan from Manchester City, suggested that he won’t be troubling Gael Clichy any time soon when he scuffed a clearance straight to Crawford 15 yards out.
The game’s most impressive performer did not need a second invitation, although his shot, which was on target, was helped by a deflection off the hapless McAusland which sent Kello the wrong way.
That prompted a flurry of changes from both sides and some intense, if unfocused, pressure from Saints, who failed to trouble Accies goalkeeper Michael McGovern.
In fairness, the ‘keeper’s inactivity had a little to do with the ruthlessness of his team-mates: as well as Gillespie, Tena, Martin Canning and Imrie all collected yellow cards for cynical fouls.
Yet Accies were more dangerous with considerably less possession. Gary Teale was forced to make a goal-line clearance while Antoine-Curier came close with a volley from Crawford’s pacy delivery.
They would have been worth a third goal but settled for just the two, safe in the knowledge that their opponents could have played on until midnight without finding the net.
“We were second best at everything,” admitted Craig. “It’s a crazy game.”
St Mirren: Kello; Naismith, McAusland, Tesselaar, Plummer; Brown (Reilly 69); Naismith, McLean, McGinn, Wylde (Caldwell 30); Ball (Teale 58), Marwood. Unused subs: Ridgers, Kelly, Williams, Morgan.
Hamilton: McGovern; Gordon, Canning, Gillespie; Neil (Hendrie ; Imrie, Mackinnon, Crawford, Redmond (Ryan 63); Antoine-Curier (Scotland 83). Unused subs: Currie, Devlin, Brophy, Docherty.