Hamilton remain rooted to the bottom of the Premiership table after losing 1-0 to Dundee United at the Fountain of Youth Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Accies started with intent but shot themselves in the foot in just the 6th minute with Kyle Gourlay’s fluffed clearance allowing Marc McNulty to be slipped through on goal and the forward steadied himself before lifting a confident finish into the net.
The visitors had several chances to extend their advantage in the following 15 minutes, with McNulty firing long-range efforts wide with both feet and Shankland failing to control when presented with a good sighting of goal.
Accies rallied thereafter, though, and the balance of the game shifted quite dramatically.
Scott McMann and Kyle Munro both saw shots beaten away by Benjamin Siegrist before Ross Callachan steered an effort onto the roof of the net and Hakeem Odoffin headed wide from close range.
Callachan was then presented with a second golden opportunity on the stroke of the interval, but he couldn’t find the target with a free header from a corner.
Accies almost made the perfect start to the second half, but Brian Rice was left frustrated on the touchline once again as Callachan had an shot from a tight angle saved before Munro headed the follow-up chance wide.
Odoffin was the next to come close for the hosts on the hour mark, but his well-struck left-footed effort from the edge of the box was tipped away at full stretch by Siegrist and then Bruce Anderson blazed over moments later.
Lawrence Shankland lifted an attempted lob well over the bar in the 67th minute and more openings presented themselves for the visitors in the latter stages as Accies became more desperate, with referee Bobby Madden waving away a huge penalty appeal to the disbelief of Micky Mellon before substitute Nicky Clark saw a shot comfortably saved by Gourlay.
Hamilton had their own penalty appeal waved away at the death as McMann went down under pressure in the area, but they ran out of steam in the end and will be rueing their profligacy, while United now know they will definitely play Premiership football next season.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Bad result at a bad time for Accies
Accies need to pick up points at home if they are to beat the drop and this was an opportunity missed to make a statement in the first of their post-split fixtures.
The draw between Kilmarnock and Ross County means they are only two points adrift at the bottom but with just four matches remaining, their fortunes need to turn around and fast.
McNulty the difference but Fuchs impressive for United
Marc McNulty’s goal was the decisive one in this game and he took it with a swagger that makes it hard to believe it was only his third of the season.
Jeandro Fuchs was the man making Mellon’s side tick, though, particularly in the early stages. The Cameroon international was one of the smallest players on the park but he looked extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet.
He used his body well to shield the ball and made good decisions in possession, while he also ventured forward at times to link up with the front men.
The 23-year-old was praised warmly by his manager after making way for debutant Florent Hoti in the 70th minute.
Hamilton must improve in final third
The big frustration for Rice will be that his side had enough chances to win this game, let alone snatch a point.
After taking a while to find their feet following the early opener, Accies largely dominated proceedings and created plenty in both halves.
United keeper Siegrist made several strong saves but he went untested on many other occasions, with multiple players guilty of rushes of blood when presented with clear openings.