Scottish Daily Mail

Losing is hard habit to break for Accies

- dailymail.co.uk/ sport

Nothing to shout about. An alarming lack of quality. And, crucially for hamilton, desperatel­y few signs they have the fight to withstand a nervy finale to this relegation battle.

they might get away with it. Dundee and St Mirren’s failure to win last night means Accies still have a four-point cushion between themselves and the play-off spot.

But boss Brian Rice will know that his troops must show more fight than they produced in their latest disappoint­ing defeat.

Second-half strikes by Ryan hardie and soon-to-be hearts defender Craig halkett eased Livingston to victory and mathematic­ally sealed their place in next season’s Premiershi­p.

the safety of top-flight football cannot be guaranteed for hamilton, however, and they must now lick their wounds ahead of a crucial clash at home to Saints on Saturday.

Just 1,022 fans turned up for this clash — the lowest Premiershi­p crowd of the season.

Livvy welcomed back skipper halkett, who shrugged off the leg injury which ruled him out of last Friday’s 2-1 home loss to hibernian to take his place alongside Declan gallagher and Alan Lithgow.

Rice could have changed his entire starting Xi after Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing at Kilmarnock but opted for just four changes, with Scott McMann, Delphin tshiembe, David McMillan and 17-year-old midfielder Reegan Mimnaugh returning to the team.

Accies suffered an early blow on 19 minutes when right-back Aaron Mcgowan slumped to the turf after a challenge from Ricki Lamie and was replaced by Alex gogic.

Livvy fans were cheering after 25 minutes but were silenced when referee Alan Muir ruled gallagher had fouled Accies striker george oakley before the right-back’s header hit the net.

the hosts wasted a great chance to take the lead three minutes before the break when

hardie met Keaghan Jacobs’ free-kick but his header from ten yards was straight at goalkeeper gary Woods.

it was a nightmare start to the second half for hamilton — and a return of the defensive failings that have haunted them all season — when hardie struck the opener.

Scott Robinson’s through ball left Accies chasing the on-loan Rangers striker, who fired beyond Woods from 18 yards within a minute of the restart.

it should have been 2-0 on 54 minutes when hardie floated a fine ball to the right wing to Robinson. the latter crossed to the back post, where Scott Pittman headed wide. Craig Sibbald then blew another chance to double his team’s advantage on 74 minutes. Lithgow’s cross from the right was dangerous and found the former Falkirk midfielder at the back post, but his header was weak and straight at Woods. he was smiling five minutes later, however, when his assist led to a deserved second goal.

A great ball from the left found halkett, whose header looped back over Woods and into the net for the clincher. the boos then rang out at full-time from the small travelling support, jeers that have become a familiar sound for this group of players. LIVINGSTON (3-5-2): Kelly 6; Gallagher 7, Halkett 7, Lithgow 7; Sibbald 6, Jacobs 7, Pittman 6, Lawson 6, Lamie 5 (Menga 46); Hardie 7 (De Vita 81), Robinson 8 (Lawless 84). Subs not used: Stewart, Erskine, Byrne, Odoffin. Booked: Robinson, Lithgow. HAMILTON (4-4-2): Woods 5; McGowan 3 (Gogic 19), Gordon 5, Tshiembe 5, McMann 4; Mimnaugh 5, Andreu 5 (Miller 65), MacKinnon 5, Martin 5;McMillan 4, Oakley 5 (Davies 69). Subs not used: Fulton, Kilgallon, Smith, Sowah. Booked: Andreu, Miller. Man of the match: Scott Robinson. Referee: Alan Muir. Attendance: 1,022.

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