Last night, Accies welcomed League Two side, Stirling Albion to The Fountain Of Youth Stadium in their first and only home pre-season friendly. The games have been coming quick and fast for Accies, who are set to play one more game against Dumbarton this evening(Tuesday), which will make it four games in six days for Brian Rice’s men. They started off with a 3-2 defeat against Raith Rovers, where they were very rusty indeed before a dominant victory against Albion Rovers on Saturday afternoon. The level is being stepped up every game, and at 6.30pm yesterday when I saw the team sheet, I knew the gaffer meant business. Despite the fact it was a pre-season friendly, that was probably the closest we will see to a full-strength side, bar one or two players, so myself and other Accies fans were expecting a comfortable victory.
There were 3 ex Accies players playing for The Bino’s last evening with Blair Currie in goals, Jordan McGregor at Right-back while Kevin Nicoll played in midfield.
Last Time We Met
The last time we played Stirling was at Forthbank back in 2013 in the League Cup, where Accies prevailed with a 3-0 victory. James Keating’s opened the scoring after 30 minutes before Chris Smith put the ball in the back of his own net. The Accies striker was in and about the goals again in the second-half when he slammed home a Grant Gillespie cross to seal a place for Hamilton in the last 16, where they faced Kilmarnock.
Accies were always in cruise control right from the start last night. I knew as soon as they started playing it should have been a routine win.
The first chance of the evening should have been a goal, when a cross by Blair Alston found Steve Davies, but the Englishman somehow knocked the ball over the bar from a few yards out in a chance that looked easier to score than miss. Davies had another two chances in the next five minutes. Firstly on the 12th minute when he headed a cross straight at Blair Currie and secondly on the 14th minute when this time he beat his man at the front-post and flicked an effort at goal which was well saved by the Stirling number one.
Accies had a fabulous chance to open the scoring on the 22nd minute when the skipper, Darian MacKinnon was sent clean through on goal after some nice link-up play, but the Accies captain failed to compose himself and ended up trying to flick it over Currie in the Stirling goal.
The hosts were finally awarded for their dominance just before the half hour mark when the ball fell nicely for Alston on the edge of the box before midfielder caught it sweetly and his thunderous volley flew into the top corner. What a way to open your Accies account.
A dominant half by the Premiership side, with Stirling not troubling them at all, failing to even have a shot at goal.
Half Time- Hamilton 1-0 Stirling Albion
Accies started the second half well and doubled their advantage on the 52nd minute when a deep corner found Johnny Hunt at the back-post before the Liverpudlian took a touch, composed himself and curled his effort into the far corner. Another great finish.
Stirling had been struggling with crosses and set-pieces all evening so every time the ball came into the box, Accies were confident of scoring. Alston nearly had his second of the evening on the 56th minute when a cross from McMann was headed into the side-netting. The tempo dropped a little after the 60th minute as everyone knew Hamilton were in cruise control, with Stirling still yet to have a shot at goal.
It should have been 3-0 on the 73rd minute. A long punt up the field was flicked on by Marios Ogkmpoe, which sent Alston one-on-one, but as he bared down on goal the substitute Stirling keeper came off his line and put Alston under pressure before saving the effort well . The final chance in a very comfortable win came on the 89th minute when Ogkmpoe unleashed an effort from outside the box which was held by Binnie.
It was a very comfortable win last night, but its a result I was certainly expecting considering how strong a squad we put out. Blair Alston was my MOTM. He was excellent. He linked the ball up, created a good few chances, scored a brilliant goal and should probably of had one or two more. He was closely followed by Johnny Hunt, who has been another brilliant recruit. He has been playing in a centre-midfield role since joining the club, which isn’t his natural position but he has played very well in all three games so far. He looks like a leader, constantly shouting instructions and helping other players on the park. He also loves a challenge and wont shy from anything.
One player who has disappointed me massively in pre-season is big Marios Ogkmpoe. He just hasn’t got going yet and has been frustrating to watch. Last night especially, he got shoved off the ball far to easily and his first touch was very poor, as well as his decision making. He has a lot to prove for me if he wants to be starting regularly.
Full Time- Hamilton 2-0 Stirling Albion
Fon- Williams, Hughes, McKenna, Easton, Gogic, McMann, Hunt, MacKinnon, Alston, Davies, Oakley
Subs- Trialist, Fjortoft, Cunningham, Winter, Want, Smith Ogkmpoe
Currie, McGeachie, Banner, Nicoll, McGregor, Trialist A, Trialist B, Docherty, Hawke, Willis, Trialist C
Subs- Binnie, McLean, Mackin, Jardine, Thomson, Trialist D, Peters, Wilson, Trialist E, Trialist F
Referee- Steven McLean
Assistants- Joe Lawson & Drew Kirkland
Goals- Alston (28), Hunt(52)
Yellow Cards- 0
Red Cards- 0