Hamilton eventually ended their long and painful winless run yesterday afternoon as they beat Hearts in a relegation six-pointer.
A second-half stunner by Mickel Miller was added to by Will Collar and that secured Accies first win since September as well as handing Daniel Stendel his third consecutive defeat since taking over the reins at Tynecastle.
After Hamilton were looking in control, Hearts substitute Olly Bozanic headed home from a corner to set up a nail-biting finish in South Lanarkshire, but Brian Rice’s men defended tremendously well to hold onto the points.
The visitors had the first effort of the afternoon with Michael Smith firing just over, but the first real opportunity didn’t arrive until the 17th minute when a inch-perfect cross by Aaron McGowan was met by the head of George Oakley, who could only divert his header wide.
The same two combined for the games first shot on target, when this time Oakley chested it down brilliantly before his effort was saved by Joel Pereira.
On the 30th minute, Glen Whelan’s looping corner found Craig Halkett in acres of space, but he headed well over.
The Jambos dominated the remainder of the half and it was Steven Naismith who spurned an excellent opportunity as he volleyed over the bar from point-blank range after being teed up by Steven MacLean.
The chances kept on coming and half-time couldn’t come quick enough for Accies, who were beginning to get deeper and deeper inside their own half.
On the stroke of half-time, Hearts came inches away from taking the lead when Halkett found himself free inside the box once again and his header beat Southwood, but hit the crossbar before being cleared.
The game swung in Hamilton’s favour as Steven Naismith was subbed off at the break. The striker had played a key part in creating most of his side’s chances in the first half.
Hamilton took the lead on the 64th minute and what a goal it was. McGowan started the move before some nice link-up play from Scott Martin and George Oakley led to Mickel Miller firing an unstoppable effort into the top corner.
They doubled their lead ten minutes later when Miller done superbly well to beat four Hearts defenders before his cross evaded everyone in the box and fell for Will Collar, who slammed home his first Accies goal from close-range.
Just as Hamilton were looking comfortable, Hearts substitute Olly Bozanic nodded home from a corner to set up a nervy finish, but Brian Rice’s men held on to pick up what was a huge three points
Full Time- Hamilton 2-1 Hearts
What the managers said to BBC sport:
Hamilton head coach Brian Rice: “I’m delighted for the boys. On the second-half performance we thoroughly deserved to win.
“There’s nothing like winning – I said it when I walked in that it’s been a long time since we’ve had this feeling, and let’s try and use this to motivate us again.”
Hearts manager Daniel Stendel: “After this game I would say we need to change things quickly. We need to play like we did for 50 or 60 minutes against Celtic, and how we did in the first half today. We need to show it in 90 minutes, and we need to score.”
I’m Still absolutely buzzing from that result on Saturday. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present.
It wasn’t pretty by all means, but the three points are all that matters at this time of the season. We were not great for the first 60 minutes but the final half hour we were fantastic and that link-up play for Mickel Miller’s goal was stuff I wish we could play more often.
I was delighted to see Andrew Winter get his appearance on the bench and it’s no more than he deserves for his performances in the reserves and U18’s this season.
We MUST replicate the same form on Thursday against St Johnstone and pick up what would be another three massive points.
Southwood, McGowan, Stubbs, Hamilton, McMann, Gogic, Collar(90), Martin, Miller, Davies(63), Oakley(83)
Subs- Fon-Williams, Easton(83),Hunt(90), Cunningham, Winter, Smith(63), Moyo
Pereira, Hickey, Smith, Halkett, Clare, White(61), Damour(76), Whelan, Naismith(46), Ikpeazu, MacLean
Subs- Zlamal, Dikamona, Bozanic(61), Meshino, Mulraney(46),Henderson(76), Wighton
Referee- David Munro
Assistants- Alan Mulvanny & Stuart Stevenson
Fourth Official- Mike Roncone
Goals- Miller(64), Collar(73)
Yellow Cards- MacLean(21), Smith(58), Halkett(71), McGowan(77), Miller(79), Easton(90), Whelan(90)
Red Cards- N/A