Scottish Premiership: Hamilton 1-1 Saints (25.9.16)

Liam Craig's 82nd minute close-range strike earned Saints a well deserved point after falling behind in the first half to Hamilton Accies at the Superseal Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The equaliser was reward for dominating large spells of the match, particularly in the second half when St. Johnstone persisted in knocking on the door before finally making the breakthrough when Craig reacted well to a rebound from a Blair Alston shot.

MATCH REPORT

After Thursday’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup Saints returned to action this afternoon at Hamilton. There were five changes to the Saints team that started at Pittodrie as Blair Alston, Michael Coulson, Richard Foster, Liam Craig and Graham Cummins came into the starting line-up to replace David Wotherspoon, Paul Paton, Liam Gordon and Joe Gormley who all dropped to the bench while Steven MacLean missed out due to the synthetic surface at The SuperSeal Stadium. Hamilton Accies player-manager Martin Canning made three changes to the Accies side that lost 4-2 at Motherwell last weekend as Darren Lyon and Michael Devlin missed out due to injury and Louis Longride dropped to the bench to be replaced by Dan Seaborne, Greg Docherty and Alex D’Acol.

Saints got the match underway in the autumn sun and they were forced into a change after 4 minutes as Aaron Comrie came on to replace the injured Richard Foster. It was the young right-backs’ first competitive appearance for Saints.

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On 7 minutes a good through ball by Grant Gillespie sent Eamonn Brophy in on goal however, Zander Clark was quick off his turn to turn Brophy’s effort behind for a corner.

3 minutes later and Saints created their first chance of the match as Brian Easton’s ball into the box was cleared by Gillespie however, the clearance by the Accies midfielder only went as far as Liam Craig who fired over from the edge of the box.

Clark was called into action on 18 minutes as he saved an Alex D’Acol strike from the edge of the box.

Saints then went straight up the other end and an Easton cross picked out Graham Cummins who headed over. Cummins got another chance to open the scoring on 21 minutes as he glanced his header wide from a Michael Coulson free kick.

On the half hour mark a good challenge by Steven Anderson won Saints possession and Danny Swanson broke forward before slipping the ball to Coulson who was in the box. Coulson then cut the ball back to Craig whose effort from the edge of the area was cleared by Georgios Sarris after Accies keeper Remi Matthews had failed to gather the ball.

Saints were starting to build pressure on the Accies goal and on 34 minutes Swanson setup Coulson however, the former York City man fired wide.

Hamilton were awarded what looked like a soft free kick on 37 minutes following a clash between D’Acol and Joe Shaughnessy. The free kick was taken by Ali Crawford who floated a cross to D’Acol at the back post and the Accies striker headed the ball across the face of the Saints goal for Docherty to volley past Clark to give the home side the lead.

Saints came agonisingly close to drawing level on 41 minutes as Shaughnessy’s header from a Swanson corner was cleared off the line by D’Acol.

On 53 minutes a powerful 25yard shot from Craig was tipped over the bar by Matthews for a corner. Then some good play by Swanson on 55 minutes saw him nutmeg two Accies players before slipping the ball to Cummins whose effort was turned behind for a corner by Docherty.

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Despite the torrential rain it was a good start to the second half for Saints and Cummins got another sight of goal a minute later however, his effort was deflected for a corner by Sarris.

Saints were awarded a free kick on 61 minutes after Murray Davidson had brought down on the edge of the box. The free kick was taken by Craig and he curled his effort just wide of Matthews’ right-hand post.

Accies first chance of the second half came on 66 minutes as Brophy switched the ball out wide to Dougie Imrie who delivered a dangerous cross across the face of the Saints goal which was turned behind for a corner by Coulson. Then a minute later a good ball into the Saints box by Dougie Imrie found the unmarked Docherty however, Clark was quick off his line to block the strike.

Saints were awarded another free kick on 71 minutes after Swanson had been upended by Darian MacKinnon on the edge of the area. Swanson took the free kick himself however, he curled his effort over the bar.

The pressure on the Accies goal eventually told on 82 minutes as the ball was played out to Blair Alston on the right and he cut inside before having a shot at goal which was parried by Matthews and the loose ball broke to Craig who blasted a low shot into the net to bring Saints level.

Substitute Louis Longridge almost regained the lead for the home side on 84 minutes as his powerful long range was only palmed by Clark and the Saints keeper had to react quickly to push the ball over the bar when it looked like it would loop over him and into the net.

With 2 minutes remaining substitute Chris Kane created space for himself in the box before slicing his effort wide. Then in added on time there was one final chance for Saints as Kane came even closer as his effort went inches past the post.

Man of the Match: Aaron Comrie

Hamilton Accies: Matthews, Seaborne, Gillespie, Imrie, Docherty, D’Acol (Longride 64), Crawford, MacKinnon, Brophy (Bingham 77), Donati, Sarris Unused Substitutes: Thomson (GK), Redmond, Roy, McMann, Want Booked: Donati, Docherty, MacKinnon, Crawford, Seaborne Scorer: Docherty (37)

Saints: Clark, Alston, Anderson, Davidson, Swanson, Shaughnessy, Coulson (Gormley 68), Foster (Comrie 4), Easton, Craig, Cummins (Kane 73) Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Wotherspoon, Paton, Gordon Booked: Davidson Scorer: Craig (82)

Referee: Euan Anderson Attendance: 1,705

Match Report by Daryl Scott