HAMILTON 1–0 COVE RANGERS
Our League One campaign kicked-off in disappointing fashion as an unlucky Josh Kerr own goal handed Accies all three points. To make matters worse, Cove finished the day with ten men following the late sending-off of skipper Paul McGowan.
In what was a poor overall performance, we forced just one save out of home keeper Jamie Smith, and Hamilton ran out deserved, if narrow, winners.
The manager was without four key players for this one, long-term absentees Blair Yule and Luke Strachan joined on the sidelines by experienced campaigners Mitch Megginson and Fraser Fyvie.
He made two changes to the side which took the bonus point in last week’s cup-tie at the same stadium with Balint Demus replacing Nick Suman in goal and Tyler Mykyta in for Kyle Connell. Rumarn Burrell took over from Kyle through the middle.
The home team made the brighter start, enjoying the bulk of the early possession without causing us any undue concern. Their first attempt came in the ninth minute when, after linking up with Tumilty, O’Hara turned and fired goalwards. Demus – making his Cove league debut – comfortably saved the angled shot at his near post.
It was a further five minutes before we got on the ball for any length of time, McGowan and Mykyta probing at the Accies defence. Dayshonne Golding then showed great determination as he burrowed into the penalty area before cutting a cross back into the danger zone, Paul McGowan having two efforts blocked before Hamilton scrambled the ball to safety.
Accies then countered, Tait running clear and firing low across the box, bringing an excellent save out of Demus who diverted his effort for a corner.
We forced our first corner in the twenty-seventh minute. McGowan, Scully and Jones linked up well down the left, the full-back winning the award when Tumilty blocked his cross. The initial delivery was partially cleared, but when Mykyta swung his cross in from the left, it took a last-gasp header from Hendrie at the back post to prevent Sena from making contact.
Mykyta then raced in behind the home back line, but with defenders closing in, he attempted to turn back and was closed down.
Out of nowhere, Hamilton took the lead. Having broken down the right, Tait fired in a low cross which cannoned off the unlucky Josh KERR and flew past Demus. Seconds later, O’Hara came close to doubling their advantage, shooting just wide of the left post.
In the thirty-sixth minute, we looked to have levelled. Mykyta sent in an inviting cross from the right which McGowan expertly head-flicked beyond Smith, but our celebrations were cut short when assistant Paul O’Neill raised his flag for offside.
Martin then sprang another Accies counter, O’Hara running in behind. As he shaped to shoot, Kerr got back in time to make the block, but was injured in the process and required treatment.
Josh was unable to resume after the interval, and Tyler Mykyta was also withdrawn. Cameron Stewart was handed his debut in what was now a back three, with Arron Darge being brought on at right wingback and Jones pushing up on the left.
Accies continued both to dominate possession, and to look the more likely to score, and Jamie Barjonas came close, cutting in off the left and flashing an angled effort just wide of the far post.
Paul Hartley then introduced Kyle Connell in a bid to offer more up front, Golding the player to come off, but it was Hamilton who might have added to their advantage, Tumilty’s well-struck drive flying across the six yard box and wide of the upright.
With the team still misfiring and failing to offer any threat, the manager then withdrew Mark Gallagher and threw on Myles Gaffney. Before the young substitute had a chance to get involved, referee Wilson flashed a red card at captain Paul McGowan. Having suffered abuse from the home fans all game, Paul gestured to the main stand, leaving the official with no option but to send him off.
We reverted to a back four at that point, Darge dropping to right back and Sena forward into the heart of the midfield.
Almost immediately, we had a rare opportunity, Burrell finding a yard of space in the box to get his shot away, but Smith reacted quickly to make the save.
Will Gillingham was sent up front for the last few minutes, but we failed to create any further openings, and could have no real complaints with the final outcome.
HAMILTON (4-2-3-1): Smith; Tumilty, Kilday, Longridge, Hendrie (O’Brien 83); Martin (c), MacDonald; Winter (One 74), Tait (Hewitt 87), Barjonas (Murray 74); O’Hara
Substitutes: Lane, Zanatta, Smith, McGlynn, McGinn
Goalscorers: Kerr (OG 34)
Booked: MacDonald (64), Murray (90)
COVE RANGERS (4-2-3-1): Demus; Sena, Kerr (Stewart 46), Gillingham, Jones; Gallagher (Gaffney 79), Scully; Mykyta (Darge 46), McGowan (c), Golding (Connell 59); Burrell
Substitutes: Suman, Naismith, Ochmanski, Reynolds
Booked: Gallagher (32)
Sent off: McGowan (82)
Referee: Lloyd Wilson
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