HAMILTON 2–0 COVE RANGERS
Cove fell to a second successive defeat, but this was a very different scenario to the midweek loss at Falkirk, the team creating countless openings and opportunities without being able to find a way through the home rearguard. Accies were more clinical, scoring in either half, in a game which saw both sides reduced to ten men.
Still minus Fraser Fyvie, Balint Demus and Luke Strachan, manager Paul Hartley also had to do without the experienced duo of Mitch Megginson and Paul McGowan due to illness.
He made two personnel changes, Mark Gallagher and Kyle Connell starting in place of Jacob Jones and Cameron Stewart, with Mikey Doyle moving over to left back and Arron Darge playing on the right of the defence.
Cove were first to threaten, some fancy footwork from Connell setting up Gallagher, but when Mark played the ball forward, Burrell was flagged offside on the edge of the area.
Accies had their initial attack in the fifth minute, Barjonas clipping in an inviting cross from the right which landed beyond two team-mates, but they were to snatch the lead soon after. Josh Kerr got caught out in midfield and the ball broke for Kevin O’HARA who raced clear and finished confidently as Suman tried to close down the angle.
We very nearly equalised immediately. Rumarn Burrell made space on the right, raced into the box, and fired in a low cross which Mark Gallagher met sweetly, his fifteen yard shot bringing a fine diving save out of Jamie Smith.
In what had become an open start to the game, Hamilton then had a golden opportunity to extend their advantage. Again, the home side got the break of the ball in midfield and this time it was Lewis Smith who ran in behind. Thankfully, Suman forced the winger wide and he could only shoot into the side-netting.
Within seconds, it was Cove threatening again, Burrell holding the ball up and laying it off for Connell, but the striker’s well-struck angled effort was held by the diving Smith.
In the twenty-third minute, Hamilton had another opportunity when Barjonas cushioned a dropping ball into the path of Lewis Smith, but his sidefoot effort was charged down by Kerr eight yards out.
Cove then enjoyed a period of pressure. First, Scully’s free-kick caused problems for the home defence, then Burrell forced a corner, which was half-cleared. Connell won another free-kick and Scully’s delivery again led to desperate defending, but the ball would not fall to one of our players, and Accies finally emerged from their box.
MacDonald then burst through from midfield, shrugging off Reynolds’ strong challenge, but his twenty-five yard shot was straight at Suman and easily saved.
Accies manager John Rankin switched his wide men, and it almost paid immediate dividends, Henderson crossing from the left to find O’Hara but Suman was off his line quickly to avert the danger.
We were still creating openings and getting up the pitch regularly, and from our latest foray forward Yule sent in an inviting cross but Scully’s header cleared the bar. Burrell then skipped away from two challenges in the box and fired in a cross which McGowan got a touch on, diverting the ball to safety.
Just before half-time Connell found Yule in the box, and when Blair’s shot was blocked, Scully fastened on to it, his attempt bouncing wide of the keeper’s right post in what was the final action of the opening period.
Cove pushed forward after the restart, a surging run from Gallagher eventually freeing up Yule, but his cross was blocked, allowing Accies to counter, Henderson running from halfway but unable to get his shot on target. The home side then enjoyed a period of pressure without seriously troubling Nick Suman.
Back came Cove, Yule firing in two more crosses, but the Accies defenders were first to the ball on both occasions.
The home side were reduced to ten men in the fifty-fifth minute, Ben Williamson shown the red card for a ferocious tackle on Kyle Connell on the edge of the centre circle. The striker required lengthy treatment but was able to return to the fray.
Paul Hartley made his first change just past the hour mark, Scott Williamson on for Mark Gallagher as Cove looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage. Connell then hurled in one of his long throws, causing mayhem in the home box, but the ball would not sit up for either Burrell or Williamson.
The substitute came agonisingly close to equalising soon after. Yule delivered from the right, Kerr flicked the ball on, and Williamson headed goalwards from close range, keeper Smith scrambling across his line to save with his legs.
In our next attack, Burrell did well to win the ball, Williamson laid it off, and Mikey Doyle sent in a curling shot which had Smith diving full length to push away.
Out of nowhere, Accies suddenly snatched a two-nil lead. In a rare counter, O’Hara ran free and when Suman made a one-handed save, the ball fell to the unmarked Jamie BARJONAS who finished with ease.
Four minutes later, we were also down to ten men. While attacking, the ball bounced accidentally off Mikey Doyle’s hand and referee Hardie was quick to show the full-back a second yellow. It seemed a harsh decision.
Cove kept pressing. Scully had a dangerous cross deflected into the keeper’s hands, Connell shot from twenty yards, his effort cannoning off a defender to the keeper, then Burrell had an effort blocked just inside the box.
In our next attack, Connell ran at the home rearguard, the ball falling for Williamson who shot just wide from the edge of the area, before Burrell had a shot charged down and saw another screw wide of the post.
In stoppage time, Burrell flicked the ball on, but Williamson volleyed high over the bar.
That was to be the last opportunity of a hard-fought game from which the side might easily have taken at least a point but failed to do so after missing a catalogue of chances.
HAMILTON (4-2-3-1): J. Smith; Tumilty (Hendrie 90), McGowan (c), F. Owens, Longridge; MacDonald, Williamson; Henderson (Winter 59), Barjonas (Redfern 88), L. Smith (Hewitt 59); O’Hara (Kirk 88)
Substitutes: Lane, Zanatta, McGlynn, Tait
Goalscorers: O’Hara (7), Barjonas (71)
Booked: MacDonald (59)
Sent off: Williamson (55)
COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Suman; Darge, Kerr, Reynolds (c), Doyle; Yule, Sena, Gallagher (Williamson 63), Scully; Burrell, Connell
Substitutes: Robertson, Jones, Gillingham, Stewart
Booked: Doyle (50)
Sent off: Doyle (75)
Referee: Ross Hardie
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