Hamilton roll out welcome mat with
A THEORY has often been advanced that football clubs who have installed artificial pitches, like Hamilton, have an unfair advantage over visiting sides who are unfamiliar with the unique roll and bounce of their synthetic surface.
It is an allegation that their manager Martin Canning has often refuted, and at present his side are certainly doing their utmost to blow the theory right out of the water.
It was six months to the day since Hamilton last won a match at New Douglas Park as they welcomed Partick Thistle on Saturday, and a second-half fightback from Alan Archibald’s men saw yet another three points depart with a visiting side as Accies boosted their reputation as the most hospitable club in the country.
“It was really disappointing,” sighed captain Michael McGovern, who was left horribly exposed for the two secondhalf goals that sunk his side. “I felt we played well in the first half, but in the second half we didn’t play well at all.
“The story of the game is that we didn’t defend our box for both goals. We probably had five or six boys who didn’t get pass marks. But even with that, we could still have probably got a result if we defend better at the goals.”
It had all looked to be going so well for the hosts in the early stages. Thistle’s David Amoo fluffed his lines with a great chance in the first minute, but after that, Hamilton took control of a first half that should have reaped greater rewards than a solitary goal.
Visiting defender Liam Lindsay picked up a hamstring problem in the warm up and was replaced just before kick-off by attacker Ryan Edwards.
It was a development that ultimately was to Thistle’s benefit, but initially the reshuffle seemed to unsettle them, and they were noticeably disjointed in the opening period. Hamilton required just 11 minutes to take advantage.
A long, diagonal ball over the head of makeshift right-back Sean Welsh found Gramoz Kurtaj, who twisted and turned before cutting the ball back to the onrushing Greg Docherty to slam the ball high into the net.
They should have been further ahead when Docherty burst through midfield but delayed playing in Eamonn Brophy, who eventually finished well only to be denied by the assistant’s flag.
A half-time tactical tweak from Thistle, pushing Edwards up top alongside Mathias Pogba, paid immediate dividends as they set about turning the match on its head.
The equaliser came just five minutes after the restart, as Stevie Lawless wriggled clear on the left and dinked a delightful ball to the back post where Pogba met it flush with a diving header to drag his side back into the game.
Thistle looked the likelier to find a winner, but it took them until six minutes from time to find it.
Substitute Kris Doolan latched on to a flick and scampered away down the right before lifting his head and drilling the ball across perfectly for Edwards to stoop and head home from six yards.
“Those balls into the box caused us problems,” admitted McGovern.
“Apart from that I didn’t really have anything to do. It was a really quiet game for me, but that just shows you.
“Fair play to Partick Thistle. They were ruthless and took their chances. But it’s really disappointing from our point of view.
“When we are not playing well, we have to learn to dig in and defend better.”
There was a feeling of vindication about this result for Partick Thistle, who moved into seventh place with the victory, as Alan Archibald’s half-time tactical switch paid dividends and forwards Pogba and Edwards — getting just their second and first goals for the club, respectively — repaid their manager’s faith in them.
“You see what happens when they put the ball in there to me and you see the result,” said Pogba, who has been critical of a lack of service from his team-mates.
“We need to keep doing this and hopefully we can win the next three games before the split.
“It was a great result today. That’s what we were looking for and everybody is very happy. Now we have to keep that going.
“It was a better team effort in the second half. We had been working on pressing all week, and then in the first 20 minutes it wasn’t happening.
“We had to correct that, and in the second half we switched on, put the diesel in our bodies and went for it.
“The result was three points.”
AGONY AND ECSTASY: McGovern vents his frustration as Partick Thistle’s Ryan Edwards enjoys his late winner