Accies Betfred Cup campaign got off to the worst possible start on Saturday, when they were held to a draw at home against amateur side Queens Park, before losing a rather dramatic penalty shoot-out to try gain the extra bonus point. It brought out a few concerns to Accies fans and probably to Hamilton boss Brian Rice, who said in his post match interview that his side were poor and looked lethargic with no energy. There is no doubt he would have demanded a reaction on Wednesday evening, when his side travelled to Ochilview to face the newly promoted League One side, Clyde
Bully Wee eventually managed to get themselves out of the fourth tier of Scottish football after being stuck there for nine years. They had a tough old season last year after facing points deductions, but they ended up finding themselves in a two-horse title race and were marginally beaten to the trophy by Peterhead, as the Blues clinched it on the final day of the season. They beat Annan 2-1 on aggregate in the play-off final to gain their promotion . It has been a busy transfer window for the Cumbernauld side, who lost their best defender, Tom Lang which was a blow, but it looks as if they held onto all their other key players. Danny Lennon didn’t wait long to bring in replacements though.
It looks as if they have recruited all the best players from League Two with hope of them being able to take the step up to League One. They have signed Tony Wallace and Chris Johnson from Annan as well as Craig Howie from Lowland League side, East Kilbride and finally they picked up goalkeeper David Mitchell to replace former Accies man, Blair Currie.
Falkirk will obviously be huge favourites for the League One title this season as with the squad and budget they havem it would be a huge shock and disappointment for them if they couldn’t win it. Bar the Bairns, anyone could finish anywhere so I am interested to see how Bully Wee cope with the step up this term.
Our second game of the Betfred Cup campaign got underway at Ochilview. Accies started slowly, similar to Saturday and could have been 1-0 down after a couple of minutes as Christopher Johnson went close twice for The Bully Wee. Firstly, a long-ball was laid off to by Kristoffer Syvertsen to Johnson , before the winger fired a thunderous strike towards goal which was heading right for the top corner, but Owain Fon-Williams somehow made an unbelievable save to tip it onto the cross bar. From the resultant corner a delivery by Martin McNiff found Johnson again but he couldn’t connect with his header properly and it was a routine save for the Accies keeper.
After an early scare the Accies defence once again looked dodgy and very vulnerable. There was a few times the centre-backs were very hesitant and made mistakes, but luckily for them it came to nothing.
The Premiership side finally began to find their feet around the 20 minute mark with young Lewis Smith being the danger man. If something was going to happen it looked as if it was coming from him. He had his man worried everytime he had the ball at his feet. On the 22nd minute he beat McNiff with ease before cutting in onto his left-foot and curling an effort at goal which took a deflection and whistled just wide of the post. Smith was at it again on the 25th-minute when he once again beat his man before cutting inside onto his favoured left-foot, and curling an effort at goal. This time it looked to be flying into the far corner but David Mitchell got a fingertip on it to send it wide for a corner.
Hamilton took the lead on the 31st minute when a corner caused a huge scramble in the box and the hosts continually failed to clear their lines. The ball fell to Hughes, who’s initial effort was blocked, but the rebound fell to left-back Scott McMann who took it round the outspread Mitchell and fired it home to score his first ever Hamilton goal on his 106th appearance.
Clyde were falling to pieces defensively now and were very stretched and exposed. McMann nearly scored a second on the 35th minute when the ball was worked out to the left-back before his powerful effort at goal was deflected for a corner.
Accies nearly doubled their advantage from the resultant corner when the set-pieced was fizzed across goal by Ronan Hughes and met by Aaron McGowan at the back-post, but his header was well saved by Mitchell.
The final chance of the opening 45 minutes came for the visitors, when a cross from Tony Wallace sailed over the head of Ciaran McKenna and found Darren Smith all by himself, but the striker couldn’t get enough power on his header to lob it over Fon-Williams.
Half Time- Clyde 0-1 Hamilton
Accies got off to a flyer in the second half as they doubled their advantage. Once again Lewis Smith was in the mix-up as his initial effort was well saved by Mitchell before the rebound fell to Blair Alston, who drilled home his half-volley into the far corner. Surely there was no way back for Bully Wee.
As Hamilton always do, they make life hard for themselves and a sloppy mistake allowed the home side to pull one back on the 57th minute. A poor pass by Mickel Miller was intercepted by Kieran Duffie before sending Johnson running down the line. The 24-year old beat Brian Easton with ease before cutting it back for Syvertsen to slam the ball home from just outside the six-yard box.
Clyde obviously got their tails up after being gifted a route back into the game and It was a horrible 15 minute spell for the Accies fans , who were watching behind the goal. After watching their side go 2-0 up and be in absolute cruise control they were now 2-1 behind and getting very worried. You just knew the hosts were going to get a big chance to equalise.
That chance I was just talking about came on the 72nd minute. All three Accies defenders couldn’t put a foot in as Johnson danced around the 18-yard box before poking the ball through to Syvertsen. The Norwegian took a touch before his effort was brilliantly saved by Fon-Williams
Hamilton finally killed the game on the 77th minute when Lewis Smith deservedly got his goal for his excellent performance, not just tonight, but throughout the course of the pre-season. The 19-year old was sent through by MacKinnon before breezing by the Clyde defenders and firing across goal into the bottom right-hand corner. What a moment for “Smithy”, scoring his first goal for the club he supported as a boy on his first competitive start.
The last chance of the evening fell at the feet of the normally clinical, David Goodwillie. Some good work by Mark Lamont on the edge of the box ended up with the ball being slid into Goodwillie, who fired straight at Fon-Williams.
A fairly routine victory for Accies, who made hard work of it at times, but the three points is all that matters.
Full Time- Clyde 1-3 Hamilton
Last Time We Met
The last time we played Clyde was in a pre-season friendly under Martin Canning last year. It was our first game of the pre-season schedule and we were convincingly beat 2-0, as David Goodwillie scored a double.
We last time we competitively played The Bully Wee was in the League Cup in 2008, where Accies ran out 3-1 winners. James Grady opened the scoring on the 17th minute before Pat Clarke drove home the equaliser for Clyde just three minutes later. The away side were reduced to ten men when Michael Ohnesorge was sent off on the 66th minute before two late goals from Joel Thomas and Tony Stevenson sealed a place in the next round for Accies.
An Accies team that included both James McCarthy and James McArthur.
A much better performance from us last night with a fairly routine victory in what was a must win game. The way it should be. If we played half as well as that on Saturday we would have won win ease. I am delighted for Scott McMann, who deserves that goal as well as Smithy who has been outstanding throughout pre-season and was definitely my MOTM yesterday. However, I always have a moan about something and its still about the defence. Once again there were a few dodgy moments in the opening part of the game and I don’t think I’ve met one Accies fan who disagrees with me. I am currently in the process of writing an article on players I think we need and getting some other fans views also. I just feel that a top flight side such as Hearts or Hibs would run riot against our back line.
Saturday is the biggest and the hardest game yet. A win against Partick Thistle will put us top of the group. Come On Accies!!
Fon-Williams, McGowan, McKenna, Gogic, Easton, McMann, Hughes(66), Smith, Alston, Ogkmpoe(64), Miller(81)
Subs- Gourlay, Fjortoft(81), MacKinnon(66), Breen, Mimnaugh, Cunningham, Oakley(64)
Mitchell, Duffie, Rumsby, Howie, McNiff, Cuddihy(81), Grant, Johnson, Wallace(74), Syvertsen, Smith(68)
Subs- McGee, McStay(74), Lyon, Fitzpatrick, Lamont(68), Goodwillie(81)
Referee- Euan Anderson
Assistants- Michael Banks + Colin McAlpine
Goals- McMann(31), Alston(51), Syvertsen(57), Smith(77)
Yellow Cards- Wallace(45), Grant(59)
Red Cards- 0