Hamilton Academical 3-5 St Johnstone: visitors edge thrilling encounter


Craig Conway was one of three players to score two goals at New Douglas Park
Craig Conway was one of three players to score two goals at New Douglas Park

St Johnstone held off a Hamilton Academical fightback in a chaotic game to move off the foot of the Scottish Premiership table.

A double from Stevie May, and a fine David Wotherspoon strike had the visitors 3-0 up after 33 minutes.

But goals from Ronan Hughes and Marios Ogkmpoe hauled Hamilton within one.

However, Craig Conway’s late double secured a first win in four league games for St Johnstone despite Hughes briefly making it 4-3.

Callum Davidson’s side had slipped to the bottom of the table after a run of four games without a goal, but back-to-back League Cup wins clearly bolstered their confidence.

May scored a hat-trick midweek in the 7-0 thumping of Brechin City, and was on the scoresheet again inside two minutes as he slotted home Wotherspoon’s cross.

Then Wotherspoon himself doubled the lead with a low drive from the edge of the box, which Hamilton goalkeeper Ryan Fulton got a hand to but could not keep out.

May rose in the box to force a good save from Fulton, before heading the ball into the net at the near post to cap an utterly dominant opening for St Johnstone.

Things looked to be going from bad to worse for Hamilton as key man David Templeton limped off, but his replacement Hughes sparked a response after touching the ball round Jason Kerr before finishing low past Zander Clark.

And four minutes later the contest came truly alive again when Ogkmpoe headed home Scott McMann’s fine cross to make it 3-2.

Hamilton began the second half far better than the first, but could not muster the required quality to level the match. Instead May broke down the right and into the box, before squaring for Conway to finish into the corner and seemingly end the home side’s resistance.

But Hamilton’s defining characteristic is their fighting spirit, and Hughes rolled in his second after Ross Callachan’s piledriver crashed off the bar and caused chaos in the box.

It set up a grandstand final 10 minutes, but to Davidson’s relief his side managed to eke their lead back out to two goals thanks to the brilliance of Conway.

The former Blackburn Rovers winger stepped up to smash a quite brilliant free-kick into the net to cap a topsy-turvy game, add the game’s third double, and finally ensure St Johnstone claimed all three points.

Man of the match – Craig Conway

It could easily have gone to Stevie May, who also got two goals and one assist, but Conway edges it with his sublime free-kick to wrap up the win
It could easily have gone to Stevie May, who also got two goals and one assist, but Conway edges it with his sublime free-kick to wrap up the win

What did we learn?

St Johnstone can score goals after all. There is a lot to be said for playing lower-league opponents to build some confidence, and it has clearly done the trick for Davidson’s men.

They had been performing better than their results suggested, their problem being a lack of cutting edge. But May’s early goal seemed to get them going and he, along with Conway, and Wotherspoon were scintillating to watch.

As for Hamilton, they deserve credit for the way they continually battled back, and their response at the start of the second half was good.

But defensively they gave up far too many chances, and will be consistently punished at this level if they do not tighten up.

What they said

Hamilton head coach Brian Rice: “We went for it. We were 3-0 down before we knew it, but at least we had a go.

“At half-time we thought we could get something out of it, we thought the next goal was important. But we needed to hold on for five minutes and give ourselves a chance to get the equaliser.”

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: “It was one of those heart-attack games. I thought we started really well and it was great to get the first goal, we managed to score three.

“But all credit to Hamilton they kept fighting, they’ve got that spirit about them, they never give up.”

What’s next?

Hamilton face Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Tuesday (19:00 BST) in a rearranged match, while St Johnstone host Dundee United in Perth next Saturday (15:00).

Player of the match

MayStevie May

Hamilton Academical

  1. Squad number9Player nameOgkmpoe

  2. Squad number15Player nameHughes

  3. Squad number8Player nameMartin

  4. Squad number10Player nameTempleton

  5. Squad number20Player nameMoyo

  6. Squad number2Player nameOdoffin

  7. Squad number21Player nameMunro

  8. Squad number12Player nameWant

  9. Squad number27Player nameHodson

  10. Squad number3Player nameMcMann

  11. Squad number23Player nameFulton

  12. Squad number34Player nameCallachan

  13. Squad number32Player nameSmith

  14. Squad number4Player nameStirling

St Johnstone

  1. Squad number14Player nameMay

  2. Squad number10Player nameWotherspoon

  3. Squad number7Player nameConway

  4. Squad number15Player nameMcNamara

  5. Squad number18Player nameMcCann

  6. Squad number13Player nameBryson

  7. Squad number24Player nameBooth

  8. Squad number3Player nameTanser

  9. Squad number8Player nameDavidson

  10. Squad number5Player nameKerr

  11. Squad number1Player nameClark

  12. Squad number6Player nameGordon

  13. Squad number4Player nameMcCart

  14. Squad number9Player nameKane

Line-ups

Hamilton

  • 23Fulton
  • 27HodsonSubstituted forStirlingat 78′minutes
  • 2OdoffinBooked at 37mins
  • 12Want
  • 3McMann
  • 21MunroSubstituted forSmithat 74′minutes
  • 34Callachan
  • 10TempletonSubstituted forHughesat 20′minutes
  • 8Martin
  • 9Ogkmpoe
  • 20Moyo

Substitutes

  • 4Stirling
  • 7Collar
  • 14Trafford
  • 15Hughes
  • 18Mimnaugh
  • 22Gourlay
  • 32Smith
  • 36Owolabi
  • 37Johnson

St Johnstone

  • 1Clark
  • 5Kerr
  • 6Gordon
  • 4McCart
  • 15McNamara
  • 8Davidson
  • 18McCannSubstituted forBrysonat 65′minutes
  • 3Tanser
  • 7Conway
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forBoothat 82′minutes
  • 14MaySubstituted forKaneat 80′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Kane
  • 11O’Halloran
  • 12Parish
  • 13Bryson
  • 19Rooney
  • 22Hendry
  • 24Booth
  • 26Craig

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