Accies 0 Saints 2 - League Table Here
Team : Main, Mackay, Grainger, Morris, Garters, Ando, Millar, Hardie,
Deuchar, Savo, Craig
Subs: McLean, Caff, Sammy, Morais, Hemsley, Reynolds, May
While New Douglas Park has always been a decent hunting ground for Saints in recent years, the changes in fortunes of Saints and Accies and our form since the start of the season meant that today's game was always going to be close to call. Sure we've been banging in umpteen million shots on goal only to lose out to the Specsaver's PR disasters in the middle giving dodgy penalties to the opposition, but the plain fact is that most Saints fans today would sacrifice all the entertainment seen this season for one of those scrappy last-minute, dodgy o.g. wins. The prayers to the Gods of Football were plentiful from the faithful making the trip west today. For their part, Accies had a decent season last year with plenty of praise for their attacking football (before that gets stifled by the SPL) but this season they'd found it a lot tougher and a fairly big shake-up to their squad in the summer meant that they'd lacked consistency over the opening games - mind you at least they knew how to find the bloody net. Either way the pre-match forecasts meant it looked like being a close hard-fought encounter between the sides. Of course the other bad news was that Charlie "Idiot" Richmond was in charge so a repeat of the Arabs refereeing debacle was always on the cards.
It turned out to be arguably our worst performance of the season with scrappy play not helped by the conditions but for all that, we thoroughly deserved the win with Ando and Danny getting us the points. Defensively we were as solid at any time during the season but the midfield was poor with Jody and Hardie fading badly late on while up front both Savo and the Doc struggled early on. On the plus side we fought for the entire ninety minutes and for all their bluster, Accies rarely threatened to any real extent and when they did the packed Saints defence was there to clear the danger. No the best win but at this stage of the season, it's a win and that's what matters.
Going into this one Saints had a doubt over Savo who had missed out last week with a knee injury. With Rustybitz and Graeme Smith only reacquainting themselves in midweek with competitive action, they were unlikely to take the field today - although there were mixed reports pre-match as to whether any of the three would even make the trip. It meant Del going with an unchanged squad from the defeat to the Coags last Saturday. However given the form of Ronaldo Hardie and the "clamour" for His Serene Swankiness to get a start, there was still room to make some changes. That also included the defence with the back four showing Ando coming in for Caff (still wearing his Fame-style headband).
In midfield Jody was without his usual partner in Murray "Where's me cap" Davidson who missed out through injury. In came the Mad Mental One while Millar and Liam occupied the wings. That meant a bench slot for Fil who was joined by Sammy. Up front it was the Doc and Savo with the former under pressure to break his duck (especially with Saints putting tall foreign strikers on trial midweek). Meanwhile Accies had veteran Marvin Andrews bringing his divine backing to the home defence while Courier was up front desperately hiding from Mad Mental Martin.
There was a good crowd through from Perth but conditions were less than ideal with a howling gale, pissing rain and a greasy pitch not helping matters. Richmond set out his stall early with Hardie getting a warning before the game even kicked off for almost stepping over the halfway line. The opening minutes saw chances appear about as frequently as the home fans going through the turnstiles. Chrissy tried to set Savo clear in the second minute but Canning came over to clear while at the other end both Liam and Ando managed to miss the ball allowing Courier in for a shove. We had a claim for a penalty in the 5th minute when a freekick into the box was only half-cleared. It broke out for Mackay and his cross seemed to be handled by Hastings in the box but Richmond waived away the claims. Liam had a run in the box but a defender blocked his ball.
Overall, there was little to entertain the fans with both sides playing too many high balls and the wind enjoying more possession than anything else. Still at least there was the fun of watching Cerny timewasting at goal kicks from about ninety seconds into the game - strangely he did speed up in the second-half (I wonder why). Back to the action on the park and Evens was allowed in courtesy of a Gartland slip although Main gathered the ball easily. Saints began to settle as the half wore on and we were playing the better football (not that it amounted to much). With quarter of an hour gone, the Doc saw a decent shot blocked. Hamilton broke up the park again but Garters was back there to put in a good tackle in the box before Danny cleared. Liam won out first corner a minute later and when Cerny dropped the ball he was only saved when referee Richmond who decided to give a foul against Ando.
We created our best chance in the 20th minute though. Doc won the ball in the middle and laid it off to Liam on the left and he blasted an angled drive that came back off the junction of the post and crossbar. That gave us some confidence and three minutes later we won a freekick 25 yards out when Marvin decided to try and exorcise Hardie by climbing all over him. The Mental One kept his Mad Mentalness intact though and took the freekick but his effort clipped the wall and went wide. Liam set up Danny next but his cross was too deep for Deuchar.
Paixao had a decent long-range effort go just wide for Accies but that was all they had to offer as Saints kept up the attacks. A Grainger cross found Millar who laid the ball back into the path of the Mad Mental One but his shot from the edge of the box went over the bar. As is almost traditional these days Garters picked up his booking in the 26th minute after a late trip on Paixao but to say the least it was harsh especially given some of the other challenges that went unpunished. Mackay had a decent shot held by the keeper and then after Accies won a corner in the 33rd minute it was cleared only as far as Millar and he had a good break before trying to set up Danny but his cross was cleared. At least Richmond managed one decent decision just after that with Cerny warned for timewasting.
We kept dominating the play without getting any real rub of the green. Five minutes from the break and we forced a couple of corners after some good build-up play with Jody managing to get more involved in the game. The second of those ended up finding Hardie at the back post and his drive was somehow headed off the line by Curier. Accies broke up the park and tried their luck with another long-range shot from Paixao but his effort clipped the post and went wide.
The half entered it's final minute with Saints pressing again. Cerny was almost caught out with a passback but managed to clear it although the ball was soon back and Mackay and the Doc won us a corner. That was headed clear but the second one in went deep and found Hardie who sent a looping header high towards the goal. Cerny came for it but up rose the rejuvenated Ando to sneak in and bundle the ball into the net. Not exactly goal of the season stuff but they all count and for the massive Saints travelling support, it made the half-time break all the more enjoyable (especially with the last action of the half seeing Courier stick a low shot wide).
The second-half saw the home side start a bit fresher although the wind and rain were still great levellers. Liam had a freekick go deep into the box in the 46th minute but there was no clear chance for a shot. Another break in the 48th minute saw a cross played left for Liam. He got in and played a decent cross back for the Doc but his header was weak and straight at the keeper. It's fair to say that Deuchar wasn't having a great game and seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence. Liam tried an effort from distance that threatened Sainsbury's car park more than the goal and then the Doc had a decent break before crossing behind the goal.
Hamilton threatened in the 52nd minute when Liam was forced into conceding a soft corner. The ball was played in the box and Main missed it completely but thankfully Ando was there to clear the ball off the line. When it came back in Main could only punch the ball clear and thankfully Accies ended up heading the ball wide. The attack seemed to shake Saints up and the midfield began to look more and more lethargic as the half wore on with Morris and Hardie looking less and less willing to attack while Savo and Deuchar dropped back too much to help out. We made some changes with a Liam Craig long ball in the 55th minute almost finding Savo but Cerny managed to get out to clear.
Accies picked up their first booking with Weslowski carded for a nasty challenge on Jody. We still couldn't clear the danger and Paixao was given room for a long-range shot that went wide. Still some good play from us on the hour mark saw the ball spread with for Liam. He tried a couple of crosses but found no takers with Jody finding his view blocked by the referee as he tried a shot. Accies made a couple of changes just after that but to little real effect.
Saints were still lacking the urgency they showed in the first half and seemed more and more content to just defend their lead with attacks limited to hitting Hamilton on the break.Mackay tried a long ball for Savo in the 63rd minute but Savo couldn't find room for the shot and ran the ball wide. Hamilton hit back with a shot from Evans that Main held comfortably although the defence protested that Grainger had been fouled in the build- up. We were forced into a change in the 66th minute when Savo was caught on the ankle. He limped off to be replaced by Sammy and when the freekick was played forward we couldn't do anything for Deuchar being held.
We did almost threaten in the 70th minute with a deep cross from the right which found Sammy at the back post but Cerny gathered just in front of him. Accies hit back and put us under a fair bit of pressure with Garters (having arguably his best game of the season so far) and Mackay clearing the danger, followed by an Ando punt - it was more in hope than anything else with the priority being to clear the lines. Curier was given some room in the box to turn and shoot but thankfully sent his effort wide. Then a long kick out found Deuchar who headed on for Sammy but again Cerny managed to gather.
Grainger conceded the next corner in the 74th minute but the Doc was there to block the shot when the ball broke clear. Hamilton were sticking to Route One football and for Saints it was back to the wall stuff as we struggled to clear our lines. One good move in the 77th minute saw the Doc and Millar combine to send the ball out to the right for Sammy but his shot went across the goal and just wide. Sammy set up Deuchar a minute later and he broke down the right but when it seemed easier to square to an unmarked Liam in the middle, he ended up playing the ball back to Millar who set up Sammy but he failed to keep his shot on target.
Paixao had a shot blocked and Main had to look sharp to hold a cross as we held on. Caff came on for the Doc who'd also picked up a knock as we went to a 5-4-1 formation. Basically though we were playing shite and barely hanging on. Sammy had a run and set up Millar but he was tackled in the box.
But with five minutes to go we wrapped it up in style. An Accies freekick was cleared as far as Chris Millar on the right and he sent the ball over to an unmarked Grainger on the left. He tore down the win and cut in and conjured up a piece of magic as he fired in an unexpected shot with his RIGHT foot sending an absolute rocket from 20 yards past a static Cerny and into the back of the net - by God we celebrated that one as the home support vanished quicker than the Sun's backing for Labour.
Accies tried to hit back with a freekick curled wide from the edge of the penalty area, but that went wide. Morais replaced Liam as the clock went down but we held on comfortably with Accies unable to hit the target although Evans managed a nasty challenge on Sammy that was allowed to go unpunished. It didn't really matter though with the final whistle coming just after that.
As I said, it was a crap performance. Again with a midfield when Jody doesn't perform it seems to cause us problems as our discipline looked shaky at times and we seemed to panic more on the ball. Up front Savo ran his arse off but the pressure has to be on the Doc to score soon - especially given Sammy's form. Defensively we looked good - Grainger scored a cracker, Garters and Ando (the latter my MoM) worked well together and we rarely were troubled by what was a poor Accies side. Liam seemed to be a bit more on form and Hardie was back to his best although there was a real lack of Ronaldo-type freekicks. Still with Goalden Grainger in the side it didn't really matter.
At least it's back to the diddy teams in a fortnight....
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