Resilient Accies nail Jambos
There were plenty of chances, plenty of shots, plenty of possession, and plenty of running. Yet Hearts never looked like scoring today, as two Simon Mensing goals were easily enough to see them off. Hamilton didn't create much, and their strikers really need to learn the offside trap, but they have now won five games in a row, without conceding a goal.
The absence of Christophe Berra, for well-publicised reasons, meant that Hearts made one change from the side that mounted a last-minute win over Inverness Caley last week, with Marius Zaliukas returning from suspension to partner Eggert Jonsson in central defence. Hamilton, like Hearts, were on a winning run, having not conceded a goal in their last four matches.
It was clear from the opening five minutes that Hamilton were well worth their good recent run of form, as they keep possession well and force their opponents back. And it was no surprise that a pretty uninspiring start from Hearts was punished after eleven minutes when the home side took a deserved lead. Easton's cross after a short corner was perfectly placed on the head of Simon Mensing, who glanced beyond MacDonald's outstretched hand. For an impartial observer, it was wholly justified.
The Accies have bulked up in the seven months that they have been in the top flight, and they were dealing comfortably with the long balls Hearts were deploying. That said, the Jambos were so close to levelling on 17 minutes, when David Obua's low cross-cum-shot was touched onto the post by Michael Stewart. Cerny was completely beaten.
That opportunity seemed to spark a resurgence and almost like that, Hamilton were suddenly playing deeper and granting Hearts space. Stewart had another great chance to level, striking Aguiar's bouncing cross against the advancing Cerny, with Nade unable to capitalise. Obua fired in a decent shot with a deflection that caught out Cerny but bounced on the roof of the net and Nade tried a left-foot volley from Zaliukas's cross that was commendable in its effort, but ultimately high and wide. Half time came, with the feeling that Hearts had ultimately done okay, but were suffering because of a very slow start.
Unfortunately Hearts began the second period in much the same vein as they had the first, Nade playing too casual a ball and this lead to several minutes of Hamilton pressure. It culminated in the award of a penalty in the 50th minute when new captain Robbie Neilson was ajudged, rather harshly it has to be said, to have dragged down James McCarthy in the area. Up stepped Simon Mensing to coolly place the ball under Jamie MacDonald's dive, making it 2-0 and, you would have sadly thought, game over.
In the aftermath of this setback, Hearts tried to up the tempo, both Driver and Stewart having efforts at goal which ultimately Cerny was able to deal with comfortably. Neilson was having a torrid time against McCarthy, who was to be fair leaning into Robbie every chance that he got. There were now, in effect, four forward players for Hearts - Driver, Nade, Obua and Aguiar, or at leas there were til Aguiar's replacement by Kingston with 25 minutes to go.
Great perseverance from Stewart enabled him to get off a cheeky dinked effort against Cerny, but the facts were we now had less than 20 minutes to get two goals. Neilson, Nade and Kingston combined well for a sliced Larry effort, as time began to slip away. Hamilton were looking to wrap things up and substitute Derek Lyle nearly caught out Jamie MacDonald with a looping header. MacDonald held it well and it would have been game over if he hadn't.
Five minutes to go, the score was still 2-0. Hearts now had Elliot and Glen upfront. There was pressure, there were crosses, there were sclaffed shots, but there were no goals. Credit to the Accies for defending well, and ultimately outmuscling Hearts, for a deserved success.
Hamilton: Cerny; Easton, McCarthy, McLaughlin, McArthur, Offiong (Thomas, 66), Neil, McGowan (Lyle, 58), Canning, McLenehan, Mensing. Booked: Offiong. Subs not used: Murdoch, Deuchar, Swailes, Gibson, Gow.
Hearts: MacDonald; Neilson (Elliot, 80), Zaliukas, Jonsson, Wallace; Obua, Karipidis, Stewart, Driver; Aguiar (Kingston, 66); Nade (Glen 51). Booked: Obua. Subs not used: Kello, Mrowiec, Thomson, Templeton.
Referee: Eddie Smith
Top man: Michael Stewart
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