This was Hamilton doing what Hamilton do best. Just when you think they are there for the taking after a couple of poor results, they turn around and bite. St Mirren were entitled to feel a sense of confidence going into this one on the back of their fine win over Hearts the previous week, but we’ve seen Accies do this sort of thing so many times that everyone should have known what was coming.
They were well worthy of the three points too, with James Keating sealing it with a tremendous curling strike early in the second half. In the end the Paisley men became just one more in a long line of Premiership clubs mugged by Martin Canning’s side.
“I’m delighted with the result, but even more delighted with the performance,” was Canning’s justifiably glowing assessment. “I thought we were positive, I thought we were aggressive.
“For us it was really pleasing because it was a big game. Our intention this week has been to come here and win, to keep a gap above St Mirren. We’ve managed to do that and when you look at Keatsy there’s a bit of quality with the deliveries and a fantastic goal.”
Only in the opening ten minutes did St Mirren look likely to continue their recently acquired momentum. There were a few shaky moments and unconvincing clearances from the visitors but a snatched effort from Kyle MaGennis apart they survived without too many tremors.
When Hamilton ventured upfield, however, they found the home defence curiously pliable and indecisive. There had been several hints that there could be some easy pickings before the old warrior Dougie Imrie grabbed the breakthrough. A canny, streetwise winger he may be, but the Accies number seven is hardly renowned for his aerial prowess, which tells you something about the marking as he calmly nodded Keatings’ corner into the net after 21 minutes.
It soon got worse for the home side. Another Keatings set piece and Ziggy Gordon was the next man in red and white hoops to be left in glorious isolation in the Saints box. The expression on the face of the Accies defender as he wheeled away having slotted the ball home told you he could hardly believe his luck. It was only his sixth goal in over 175 appearances for the Lanarkshire club.
St Mirren at least summoned up enough resolve to keep probing away and were rewarded for their endeavours right on the brink of half time as Stephen McGinn drilled a well struck drive into the bottom corner. It looked as though Oran Kearney’s men had given themselves a decent platform to mount a full comeback after the break. Within ten minutes of the restart, however, they had fallen through the floorboards again.
On this occasion there was nothing to quibble about in terms of the quality of the goal. Keatings picked up the ball midway inside the St Mirren half, manoeuvred himself into position and sent in a wonderful effort that curved high beyond Danny Rogers.
It was unlikely that this battle-hardened Accies side were going to let this one slip from their grasp. So it proved, with some familiar tactics being deployed to slow down the game and frustrate their opponents. They worked a treat, with St Mirren reduced to exasperated over-eagerness which included Simeon Jackson being sent off for a collecting a second yellow card. Despite a late rally from the hosts which saw Danny Mullen hit the bar, the job was done.
“It’s frustrating,” lamented Kearney. “It’s 11th versus tenth, a massive game – if you concede from a corner and free kick it makes it extremely hard.”