Hamilton Accies 2 Morton 1 report
Published: 6 Mar 2013 11:301 comment
Accies seem to hold an Indian sign over the Cappielow club. They are the only side Allan Moore's men have failed to beat this season and have now won 10 of their last 12 matches against the Ton.
Their latest victory shattered the Greenock outfit's long-held record as the only side in Britain yet to lose on their travels on league duty this season.
Ton's impressive streak stretched all the way back to 14 April 2012 - when they lost 4-3 to, yes, you've guessed it, Hamilton at New Douglas Park.
And despite going behind to an early David O'Brien strike, Accies would still not be denied their usual upset as a Kevin Rutkiewicz own goal and a Ziggy Gordon wonder strike earned them the win.
The result means that Ton remain just two points clear of second placed Partick Thistle, who now have two games in hand.
They were always bound to lose on the road sometime, but it was the manner in which they surrendered their record that will hurt most.
Ton weren't at the races. They were second to every ball and nowhere at every second ball. Hamilton just looked as if they wanted it more.
The late loss to injury of Mark McLaughlin, who was expected to be back but suffered a fresh setback in training, as well as Craig Reid and Peter MacDonald, didn't help the visitors' cause.
And they almost got off to the worst possible start when Martin Hardie sliced a clearance into the air in his own box and Stevie May stretched out to stab a volley towards goal.
His effort looked set to sail beyond Derek Gaston and into the net, but the big keeper stretched every sinew to reach out and tip the shot wide.
But it was Ton who took the lead on eight minutes when Michael Tidser slipped O'Brien in with a sumptuous slide-rule pass and the wideman rifled an angled drive into the bottom right corner.
Fouad Bachirou had an opportunity to double that advantage three minutes later when the ball broke to him inside the box, but he was forced to hurdle a challenge and the chance was lost.
It was then that Hamilton took the game by the scruff of the neck and began to swarm all over the league leaders, who sat deep and allowed them to play.
Gary Fisher fired narrowly wide from 18 yards first, and then lone striker May took over and began to take pot shots at every available opportunity but without much success.
When the Accies' equaliser eventually did arrive on 36 minutes, it was gifted to them by a series of calamitous events all of Morton's making.
A long ball in behind was misjudged by Rutkiewicz and skimmed off the top of his head and behind for a corner when a simple shout from a team-mate would have seen him let it run harmlessly out.
Fisher swung over the resultant flag-kick and Gaston fumbled under pressure from Martin Canning and watched in horror as the ball dropped onto Rutkiewicz's head and rebounded into the net.
Although a series of lucky events led to the goal, it was no more than the hosts deserved as the sides went in at the break level.
They could and should have gone ahead from another Fisher corner two minutes after the restart, but unmarked teenage defender Mikey Devlin failed to hit the target with his bullet header.
On 52 minutes they went closer again when Fisher bullied David Graham, who was starting for the first time in a month, off the ball and slipped inside into the patch of Louis Longridge.
The diminutive midfielder pushed on and fired in a shot from distance which the by-now anxious Gaston nervously saved with a combination of his shins and arms.
Hamilton continued to pile on the pressure, and only a last-ditch Rutkiewicz block prevented Longridge from converting after May had skipped past Bachirou and Willie Dyer and pulled the ball back.
It seemed to be a case of 'if' and not 'when' Accies would take the lead, but no one could have foreseen the source of what would turn out to be the winning goal on 58 minutes.
Although right-footed, Gordon played at left-back and rampaged down that side unopposed before curling a stunning strike into the postage-stamp top corner to score the first goal of his career.
With MacDonald ruled out, Moore decided to start with a 4-5-1 formation partly out of necessity and partly to match up with Hamilton - who set up in a 4-1-4-1 - in the midfield department.
But with the entire Ton midfield looking out of sorts, it still seemed like they were a man down in the engine room and would be better served with another body up front beside Colin McMenamin.
It was at this stage, just after the hour, that Moore replaced Hardie with Peter Weatherson. He withdrew McMenamin - who, although starved of decent service, failed to make any sort of impact against the imposing Canning - and sent on Archie Campbell. Yet the league leaders, rather perplexingly, never got going until after they were reduced to 10 men when Willie Dyer was stretchered from the field after suffering a horrible dislocated shoulder.
It was just two minutes after Moore had introduced his third substitute, Kyle Wilkie, and meant his side would have to play the remaining time at a one-man disadvantage.
On a night when almost everything that could go wrong for Morton did, this moment perfectly encapsulated the evening and the hoodoo Hamilton seem to hold over them.
Apart from several promising forays forward from Scott Taggart, a couple of scrambles in the box and over seven minutes of stoppage time, Ton never quite looked like salvaging their proud away record.
MORTON (4-5-1): Gaston (5); Taggart (6), Rutkiewicz (6), O'Ware (7), Dyer (6); Graham (5) (Wilkie 75, 3), Bachirou (5), Hardie (5) (Weatherson 62, 4), Tidser (5), O'Brien (6); McMenamin (5) (Campbell 71, 3).
SUBS NOT USED: Halsman, Hutton (gk). Booked: Hardie (43), Rutkiewicz (44), O'Ware (90+4).
HAMILTON (4-1-4-1): Cuthbert (7); Gillespie (6), Canning (8), Devlin (7), Gordon (8); Neil (6); MacKinnon (6) (Ryan 87, 1), Fisher (7), Routledge (7), Longridge (7); May (7).
SUBS NOT USED: Hendrie, Kilday, Fraser, Christie (gk). BOOKED: Devlin (55), Fisher (85), Ryan (90+1). REFEREE: Kevin Clancy. ATTENDANCE: 1,099.