After last weekend’s defeat against Hibernian, Accies faced another difficult task on Sunday when they travelled to Ibrox to face Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. The Glasgow side disappointingly drew against the struggling Dundee last weekend before travelling to Vienna in what was a must win game in their Europa League campaign, if they wanted to progress to the knockout stages. They fell to a 1-0 defeat with Dejan Ljubicic scoring with six minutes remaining to send the Austrian side through. Gerrard will have been looking for a response yesterday, with his side not winning in 3 games. Meanwhile, Martin Canning’s men have been severely struggling up-front this season, finding goals hard to come by. They have failed to find the net in five of there last 6 games, with all three goals coming in the 3-1 away win in Paisley at the start of the month. They have the worst goal scoring record in the Scottish Premiership as well as the worst defensive record, conceding a whopping 38 goals in just 18 games. The Gers have the best goal scoring record in the league at have been lethal in-front of goal at home this season.
Rangers made three changes for Sundays game’s. Daniel Candeias returned to the starting XI after missing Thursdays game due to suspension. Top scorer, Alfredo Morelos was sent off last week against Aberdeen therefore Kyle Lafferty stepped in. Eros Grezda started in place of Glenn Middleton who was rested after playing 90 minutes in Austria.
Hamilton boss, Canning made just the one change from the home defeat to Hibs last Saturday, going more defensive. They lined up what looked like a 5-4-1. Scott McMann replaced the unwell, Mickel Miller. Gary Woods did start in goals on Sunday, which did come as a surprise as he limped off injured at half-time last week.
The game got into proceedings at Ibrox and Rangers came flying out the traps, and should have opened the scoring after just one minute on the clock. A short one-two corner between James Tavernier and Scott Arfield led to a deep cross finding Kyle Lafferty all by himself at the back-post. The striker somehow headed his effort off of the post from point-blank range before looking at the post in disbelief how it didn’t end up in the back of the net. The home side continued to press high while Hamilton were camped inside their own box and broke the deadlock on the third minute. Borna Barisic played Eroz Grezda down the line before his cross was cut back for Lafferty. His effort deflected off of Matthew Kilgallon and straight to Daniel Candeias who rifled the ball by Woods, giving him no chance. It felt and looked like it was going to be a long afternoon at Ibrox for the Accies. Rather surprisingly, the home relaxed far to quickly and didn’t push forward and became very sloppy and wasteful. The next opportunity came after 23 minutes when some slack defending from Aaron McGowan led to a clearance going straight to Grezda, who cut in and fired a low piledriver at goal, which Gary Woods smartly tipped around the post. Woods was called into action again after 40 minutes when free-kick from Barisic found the head of Gareth McAuley, who rose highest of all. His header was fantastically saved by Woods, who reacted sharply down to his left. It wasn’t great from the hosts in the first period, failing to capitalise on the early Candeais goal.
Half Time- Rangers 1-0 Hamilton
The second-half got underway in Govan and Lafferty sent warning signs to Hamilton again as he should have done better from a Borna Barisic cross, which he fired into the side-netting from close-range. The Hamilton keeper made a poor kick-out minutes later which went straight to Ross McCrorie. He found Arfield who raced forward before sliding in Grezda, however, Woods made amends by saving the shot well. Lafferty will be astonished how he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet after 65 minutes when a deep cross found Conor Goldson at the post far-post. His header went back across goal and looked all set up for Lafferty, but the Northern Irishman’s header was somehow clawed off the line by Woods. Scott Arfield went close on 77 minutes when he won the ball back on the edge of the box after Accies failed to clear their lines. His effort just curled wide of the Hamilton goal. The Lanarkshire side’s only chance came after 78 minutes when substitute Fredrik Brustad broke-free on the counter-attack, however he took to long allowing Goldson to make a vital block, in what was a frustrating afternoon for the hosts who failed to fire after an early goal. To Hamilton’s credit they defended well, with Rangers have 21 corners and numerous crosses into the box.
Full Time- Rangers 1-0 Hamilton
McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, McAuley, Barisic, McCrorie(58), Candeias(81), Arfield, Jack, Grezda, Laffery
Subs- Foderingham, Coulibaly, Flanagan, Halliday(81), Worrall, Middleton(58), Dallas
Woods, McGowan, Kilgallon(88), Gordon, Sowah, McMann, Imrie, MacKinnon, Taiwo(83), Bingham(74), Keatings
Subs- Marsden, Tshiembe, Penny(88), Want, Monlouis, Boyd(83), Brustad(74)
Referee- Euan Anderson
Assistants- Alan Mulvanny & Andy Milne
Fourth Official- Andrew Dallas
Yellow Cards- MacKinnon(39), Gordon(68), Lafferty(90+2)
Red Cards- 0