Saturday marked the return of the competitive football, with the return of The Betfred Cup campaign. These two sides are in Group F alongside Clyde, Airdrie and Partick Thistle. Accies, before yesterday were probably massive favourites to win the group but as all of us know, we are allergic to cup competitions and never seem to turn up for them.Brian Rice has been talking about how much he loves the Betfred Cup competition and how serious he is taking it, so there would be absolutely no excuses from Accies if they failed to progress. It was a fairly successful pre-season for Accies. After getting off to a poor start they won three consecutive games.
Last Time We Met
The last time we met Queens Park was back in 2011 in the Challenge Cup in the last 16. We beat The Spiders 2-0 thanks to goals for Ali Crawford followed by a David Hopkirk goal to kill the tie. Accies went on to beat Partick Thistle, Morton and Livingston before meeting Falkirk at Almondvale for the final. We unfortunately lost 1-0 that day as a Darren O’Dea goal after two minutes was all that separated the two sides in a tight game. I remember that day well and it was still a cracking day bar the result.
Brian Rice played his strongest side, as expected. The only surprise to the line-up was to see young Ronan Hughes start at right-back instead of fans favourite, Aaron McGowan. However, Hughes has had an excellent pre-season and deserved his chance. We would have probably seen more of the youngsters on the bench yesterday, including our new recruit Korede Adedoyin but the U20s participated in the Oban tournament which we enter yearly.
Queens Park boss Mark Roberts handed out plenty debuts to after their was a massive clear-out for The Spiders during the summer with no fewer than 18 faces departing the League Two side. A brand new side compared to the side that ended the season in May against Peterhead.
The first competitive match of the season got underway at the newly named ” Fountain Of The Youth” stadium and the way we started it looked like we needed a fountain of hope if we had any hopes of winning the group.
The away side were well drilled and much more up for it than the hosts as they started the better side. I’ve been moaning about Hamilton needing one or two centre-backs for a couple of weeks now and my point continued to look more valid as on the thirteenth minute, a through ball sliced the three Hamilton defenders right open and allowed Salim Kouider-Aissa to go clean through on goal. The Queens striker bared down on goal before taking the ball around Fon-Williams and having a shot at goal which was cleared of the line by Brian Easton.
It was a very flat game with either goalkeeper being forced into any saves, with the only chance in the first 25 minutes coming from Kouider-Aissa.
The first sight of goal Accies got was when a dangerous ball in Ronan Hughes was just taken off the toe of George Oakley, who had set himself up well to the volley. It was Good defending by Queens Park’s Lewis Magee.
The final chances of the half was when a Johnny Hunt set-piece was headed over the bar by Oakley from about 6 yards out. A minute later Hughes beat his man on the right-hand side before drilling a low effort at goal which was blocked by the Queens defence.
I wrote in my report from the Dumbarton game that the second half was probably one of the worst I’ve watched but yesterdays first-half wasn’t far off it. It was a diabolical half of football, especially by Accies who failed to have an effort on target and test William Muir in the Spiders goal.
Half Time- Hamilton 0-0 Queens Park
I was expecting a completely different Accies team the second half as Brian Rice will have been livid at his men at half-time. In fact, there were numerous boo’s from the home fans when Nick Walsh blew for half-time.
Accies did start the second half slightly better and went close after 48 minutes when a delivery from Hunt found Ciaran McKenna, who could only guide his header wide of the post. Minutes later another delivery found McKenna once again. This time his glancing header was on target and was well held by Muir.
Oakley had another chance on the 59th minute when a corner was cleared by Creag Little then William Mortimer before the ball was worked out to Scott McMann. His delivery found the head of the Englishman who’s diving header went over the bar.
Accies were trying to lift the intensity and next it was Blair Alston who had an effort at goal. The midfielder picked up a pass by Aaron McGowan before beating his man, driving to the edge of the box and firing wide. Willie Muir in the Spiders goal was still yet to be tested as the clock struck the 70th minute. I personally was getting very agitated at this point.
The visitors had done nothing the whole second half but once again they were allowed in as more dodgy defending by the Accies centre-backs allowed a long ball by Little to send David Galt through but McKenna just about edged him out before he unleashed his shot.
Muir was finally tested after 80 minutes when a long-ranged free-kick from Alston was bound for the top corner but the Spiders keeper made a good save and tipped it over the bar.
The best chance of the afternoon for the top flight side fell to substitute Marios Ogkmpoe, who’s been underwhelming so far in pre-season. Mickel Miller took the corner this time and found the big Cypriot at the back-post,but he somehow headed it over the bar. I’ve still no idea how he didn’t score.
The visitors were absolutely knackered as we entered the final few minutes but fair play to them. Although we were absolutely abysmal they worked their socks off and deserved at least a point.
It ended in a draw which meant both sides earned a point and there was penalty kicks to decide who takes the extra bonus point.
Full Time- Hamilton 0-0 Queens Park
Queens Park won 6-5 on penalties, however the shoot-out was full of drama. Alfredo Agyeman stepped up to hit The Spiders sixth penalty and missed, which meant Accies won the bonus point but referee Nick Walsh then booked Fon-Williams for coming off his line and demanded a re-take, which Agyeman then scored. MacKinnon then stepped up and missed before Thomas Block stepped up and won it for Queens. I personally thought Muir came off his line when saving MacKinnon’s penalty.
Fon-Williams, McMann, McKenna, Hunt(55), Davies(64),Oakley, Alston, Gogic, Hughes, MacKinnon, Easton(69)
Subs- Gourlay, McGowan(55), Fjortoft, Miller(69), Smith, Breen, Ogkmpoe(64)
Queens Park XI
Muir, Mortimer(85), Clark, Little, Jamieson, Magee, McGrory, Block, Kouider-Aissa(64), Galt, Purdue(77)
Subs- McDougall, Moore(64), Agyeman(77), Grant(85), Main, Martin
It was an horror show yesterday and it was truly embarrassing and there was absolutely no excuses whatsoever. Fair play to Queens Park who came with a plan and played well and worked their socks off and deservedly got a point, and then obviously the lucky bonus point. Brian Rice got the formation all wrong for me, playing a 5-3-2 at home against an amateur team. Seriously?. That meant we had Alston, who is supposed to be our creative midfielder having to come back and help cover the midfield as we were being over run. This resulted in absolutely no creativity and that’s why we played “Hoof ball” all afternoon. That was the thing that annoyed me most yesterday. All we have done the whole pre-season was play nice football on the deck, which led to goals and chances, so why in our first competitive match do we decide to just play punts forward against gritty and strong defenders, who love a challenge.
The defence was full of bomb scares. We need two solid and experienced centre-defenders, another creative midfielder and maybe even another striker to give Oakley and Davies some competition. Oggy wont have a sniff this season for me unless he shows rapid improvement.
Referee- Nick Walsh
Assistants- Calum Spence & Kevin McElhinney
Yellow cards- Block(44), Galt(55), Mortimer(81), Magee(90+4), Williams(90+8)
Red Cards- 0