Lee Hodson scored to give Accies the lead inside 10 minutes before it was 2-0 three minutes into the second half through Ross Callachan, Callum Smith adding a third as the home side coasted to an impressive derby result.
This was one of the biggest Lanarkshire derby battles in recent times. With Hamilton looking to send Motherwell to where they were, bottom, stakes were high. It had been a turbulent week on the north side of Lanarkshire.
Stephen Robinson resigned as Well boss after almost four years, the club left in 10th and without a win in nine prior matches. Taken into this one by Robinson’s assistant and club legend Keith Lasley, things didn’t start well at all.
Hodson missed a big chance at one end for Accies while Tony Watt missed one for Lasley up the other. The Hamilton right-back would atone for his early miss, firing a shot under Aaron Chapman and into the net.
Andy Winter should have made it two before the 30-minute mark after Chapman failed to deal with a bouncing ball, but the youngster could only blast over with an open goal at his mercy. Declan Gallagher and Liam Polworth had chances that were met by Accies keeper Kyle Gourlay as Hamilton headed into half-time ahead.
Their lead would be doubled three minutes into the second half, David Moyo dragging the ball back for Callachan, who fired home in plenty of space as Hamilton took full control. Motherwell have only scored more than once on four occasions in the league this term and a comeback looked a tall order.
Scott McMann had it in the net again for Hamilton but it was ruled out for a foul. They would soon have a third, Callachan’s cross met by Smith at the backpost, the youngster heading off the post and into the net after the hour-mark.
Three goals were more than enough for Rice’s side, a great day for them contrasted by another bitter blow for Motherwell. Here are three things we learned.
Hamilton have enjoyed this fixture more than Motherwell in recent times. They have lost just one of the last six derbies, the Steelmen scoring once in the last four.
Rice’s men were better from start to finish, the visitors looking stunned in the wake of a turbulent week at Fir Park.
It’s been a good few days for Accies. After earning a draw away to St Johnstone, who sit just one point above them now, a win over Motherwell lifts them into 10th and one point clear of the relegation zone.
Rice has had his critics this season but as Hamilton always do, they dig out the results when they matter most. Again they showed the usual Accies tenacity and work-rate, on top of some good football too, which will please Rice.
Defeat in the derby caps off what has been a rough few days for Motherwell. They have slipped into the relegation play-off spot, joint-bottom with Ross County, and are currently without a win 10.
Whoever takes the reigns at Fir Park will have to act quick in order to stop the slide down the table. In the short-term, that task lies at the door of interim boss Lasley, who has to work out how to get these players firing again.