RUMOURS of Hamilton Accies’ impending demise have been much-exaggerated if the promise and quality imbuing the opening four matches of the season are to be of any measure.
Roundly written of as “the team most likeliest” to go down this season, Accies’ second victory of the campaign was deserved. The fact this was their third clean sheet suggested more is to come.
As is always the way, the attackers stole the headlines but there was impressive solidity and poise in the visitors’ defensive and midfield ranks as they were set on the back-foot after the break.
Carlton Morris, the 19-year-old on-loan Norwich City frontman, netted the telling first-half opener and was immediately on manager Martin Canning’s mind at full-time.
“He works his socks off and doesn’t give them a minute to play,” the Accies player-manager said. “And as you saw, when he gets through on goal he has good composure in his finish. For us, he can be a huge asset. He’s here until January, hopefully with the possibility of extending that.”
The mood was abject in the home camp in stark comparison. Defeat means the team managed by John Hughes are still seeking their first win since the momentous events of Hampden Park and the Scottish Cup final at the end of May. With Europa League matches included, they have managed just three goals in seven games this season.
The first half unfolded as a showcase in exactly what has been vexing Hughes of late – a lack of composure and quality in front of goal.
It is a shortcoming that Hughes still aims to address before the transfer window closes with Darren Murray, the Portadown striker, among recent trialists.
There was no questioning the home side’s quality in possession deeper down the field, but the failure crystallized in a costly Dani Lopez miss, allowing Hamilton to grow into the game.
In fairness, some seven absences, most considered first-team mainstays, have knocked a hole in the plans of Hughes.
The home side’s best chance of the half came after 12 minutes.
Another flowing move ended with Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo cutting a low ball across from the right. Lopez could only flick his effort straight at McGovern from the edge of the six-yard box.
It was from there that Accies roused with a first warning sounded as Grant Gillespie’s left-foot strike from distance fizzed just wide.
Then, in the next attack, Iain Vigurs’s attempted cross-field pass was intercepted by Ali Crawford who weighted an angled through ball into the home box. Morris, a gift from past manager Alex Neil, showed great stealth and a touch of class in his control as he swept in a 12-yard finish.
The rest of the opening half saw both sides fluff further scoring opportunities, with a Greg Tansey slice across goal cut out by the diving Michael McGovern down low with Mbuyi-Mutombo prowling.
The hosts lived extremely dangerously at times, with Ali Crawford missing one terrific chance in front of goal.
The game died a death in terms of excitement towards the hour with the revised game-plans in both camps cancelling each other out.
The salt in the wound for the hosts, and cream on the cake for Accies, came in stoppage time.
With the hosts piling forward, Hamilton countered at pace and Dougie Imrie’s fine diagonal ball in from the right was controlled and tucked away expertly by freshly-introduced substitute Longridge.
Hughes’s patience is being tested, just as the supporters’ was audible in predictable disgruntlement at the end. “It’s what I’ve been seeing all season. We need to get the ball over the line,” Hughes emphasised.”
Inverness Caley Thistle: Fon Williams; Raven, Draper, Devine, Williams; Tansey (Tremarco 65), Polworth, Vigurs (Wedderburn 77); Christie; Mbuyi- Mutombo, Lopez (Horner 77). Subs not used: Esson, Ferguson, Brown, Sutherland.
Hamilton Accies: McGovern; Gordon, Garcia Tena, Tagliapetria, Kurakins; Gillespie (Docherty 64); Imrie, Mackinnon, Crawford, Kurtaj (Longridge 90); Morris (Nade 81). Subs not used: Martin, MacDonald, Watson, Boyd.
Referee: Euan Anderson Attendance: 3,003