2006-03-28 Stranraer

Bell's League Division 1

New Douglas Park, Hamilton,

28th March 2006


Hamilton Accies 1

Stranraer 0

Wake 68  

Report by Gilbert Mowat

After the disappointment of the weekend defeat by Queen of the South, it was inevitable that Billy Reid would make some changes for this game. What was unexpected however was the extent to which the under 19 squad would be used. In came Marc McJimpsey and Craig Galloway to join the more "established" teenagers James McArthur, Scott Agnew and David Elebert. Another big surprise was the manager's decision to use Alex Neil in a deeper role in the heart of a back three. We shouldn't have worried; the wee guy played there as if it was second nature to him.

The visitors included former Accies Michael Moore and David Hamilton in their starting lineup, although Moore had to be replaced after 47 largely ineffective minutes. The first half of the game was extremely subdued, with the young Accies team having the bulk of the possession but lacking a cutting edge. No decent chances were created at either end of the park and Accies pretty much had things under control with Neil and McJimpsey taking charge. Accies had a good shout for a penalty kick when the ball looked to have been controlled by the arm of a Stranraer defender, but referee Mike McCurry was unimpressed.

Steven Thomson suffered a mouth injury shortly before the half time break and was replaced at half time by young Ross McCabe in the heart of the defence. During the break, I overheard a less than confident Stranraer fan tell his mate that just one goal from Accies would be enough and that turned out to be prophetic.

The early stages of the second half were similar to the first half, with Accies dictating the play and Stranraer finding it hard to get much in the way of possession. It has to be said that the inexperience of some of the Accies players was evident on occasion, but they still chased the ball whenever it was lost and ran their hearts out for the cause. Accies nearly took the lead when Juanjo beat a couple of players on the right before thudding the ball of the post with Corr beaten.

Billy Reid decided to make a couple of changes on the hour mark, with Pat Keogh and Scott Agnew replaced by Mark Gilhaney and Scott Anson, who was making his debut. Paddy looked to be less than impressed at the decision but it would be a bad day if players were happy to be taken off. The key factor now was the presence of Mark Gilhaney on the left wing and he proceeded to give the Stranraer defence a torrid time.

Accies were still the game's dominant team, but when the goal arrived it was bit of a surprise. Brian Wake came very close to scoring when he showed superb control to turn and fire in a close range shot that Barry John Corr did well to block. The defence reacted slowly and the rebound was passed straight back to Brian, who wheeled and crashed the ball into the net off the crossbar. The goal really relieved the tension and was worthy of the sustained applause it received. Accies came close to extending the lead a few minutes later, when a remarkable run by Mark Gilhaney along the goalline ended with a cutback to the edge of the area where Marc McJimpsey was only able to fire the ball over the top.

As the game moved into the closing stages, the visitors were urged by manager Neil Watt to get as many players forward as was possible. This led to a period of sustained pressure, where they won several consecutive corners. At times they employed the tactics known kindly as the 1-10 formation, with everyone up for the corners and Corr waiting on the half way line. All of this pressure did produce a good header from David Hamilton that David McEwan did well to tip over the top but the Accies goal came through it unscathed.

With Stranraer beginning to lose their composure, Mark Gilhaney skinned Leigh Hinds just in front of the dugouts. Hinds brought him down and the two players then had a bit of a argument that led to both being yellow carded by Mr McCurry. Other players got involved too but Hinds took things too far and received the full set of cards from the referee. With that, the game was effectively over and Accies had no trouble in holding on for the three points.

While this was not a classic game, it was a very welcome win and it was very interesting to see the young players in action. There were no failures and it bodes very well for the future of the club that they have such talented players in the youth ranks. David Elebert and James McArthur have had several first team games recently and are developing well, but it was very gratifying to see some of the lesser known players, such as Marc McJimspey, Craig Galloway, Scott Agnew, Ross McCabe and Scott Anson in action. They let nobody down and it's a tribute to the hard work being put in behind the scenes that Accies have such a talented crop of young players on their books. Long may it continue.

Hamilton: McEwan, Elebert, Thomson (McCabe 46), McJimpsey, McArthur, Neil, Juanjo, Agnew (Anson 59), Galloway, Wake, Keogh (Gilhaney 59).
Subs Not Used: McAlpine, Jellema.

Booked: Gilhaney.

Goals: Wake 68.

Stranraer: Corr, Swift, Higgins, Henderson, Keddie, Hamilton, Aitken (Sharp 73), Gilfillan (Wingate 73), Payne, Moore (Martin 47), Hinds.
Subs Not Used: Morrison.

Sent Off: Hinds (90).

Booked: Keddie, Sharp, Hinds.

Att: 1,135.

Ref: M McCurry

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