A late Kyle Munro goal has ended St Mirren’s top six charge at the death as Hamilton Accies drew 1-1 with the Buddies
Jamie McGrath’s penalty handed St Mirren a deserved half-time lead after controlling the opening proceedings but Munro’s 89th minute goal means Jim Goodwin’s side miss the Scottish Premiership top six for the first time since the league rebrand by two goals, Accies now 12th despite their positive showing.
With so much incentive in this game for the Saints, they seemed up for it from minute one. A top six spot for the first time in the Premiership era was guaranteed if they could get one over Accies on their travels and Goodwin’s men were first to every ball initially.
Of course, they could hope for some favours elsewhere. Dundee United mathematically were still in the hunt but their hopes were slim, St Johnstone being the main opposition. A Saints defeat or draw in Hamilton and a Saints win in Perth would see Callum Davidson’s side hit the top six.
But Goodwin’s men seemed in no mood for leaving things to chance against an Accies who also needed the three points on offer to boost their Premiership survival bid. McGrath was handed the chance to put the Buddies ahead from the spot after a challenge from Scott Martin on Ilkay Durmus inside the box.
After Lee Erwin, Jon Obika and Richard Tait all passed up chances in an impressive opening for Saints, McGrath’s opener would have been merited. When the Irishman is given the chance to score from 12 yards, he doesn’t normally miss, and that was the case again.
Ryan Fulton dived the wrong way as Saints took control, no more than they deserved. Home manager Brian Rice threw striker David Moyo on at half-time to try and turn the game in Hamilton’s favour, offering little in attack during the first 45 minutes.
Taking off a defender in Ben Sterling for an attacker in Moyo did spark Hamilton but they still weren’t testing Jak Alnwick in the Saints goal. Jon Obika reminded Accies of the potential consequences, forcing Fulton into a good save from close range before bursting through one-one-one, hitting the ball straight at the keeper.
Ronan Hughes and Moyo then came inches away from a headed goal seven minutes from the end. The Buddies’ control on the match had slipped, Accies looking more and more dangerous throughout the second 45 but a goal was alluding them.
Hamilton would eventually late heartbreak for Saints in their quest for history, winning a late free-kick that Munro met at the back-post, heading past Alnwick to send St Johnstone into the top six and sealing a vital point for Accies, Goodwin sent off at the end as frustration reigned. Here are three things we learned.
After holding sixth for so long, you have to feel for the Paisley Saints. A late Munro goal, which Goodwin believes shouldn’t have happened as the free-kick wasn’t one, means St Mirren miss out on the top six by two goals.
It’s a major disappointment, that while despite their good season, will sting for the Buddies.
Accies show fight
Kilmarnock started the day four points off safety but now Hamilton have replaced them in the Premiership’s bottom spot. Killie’s win over Motherwell has set Accies back one position.
It’s one win in 12 for Rice’s side but this point will be looked upon as a valuable one after being behind up until the very last moment, the bottom three split by just two points after Hamilton’s spirited display.
Doyle-Hayes and McGrath shine
The Irish midfield pair at St Mirren were immense again. While McGrath started almost every Buddies attack and scored a first-half penalty, Doyle-Hayes was breaking up the play and winning tackled to feed McGrath.
Doyle-Hayes’ contract expires in the summer and Goodwin will be keen to convince him to stick around, while there will no doubt be those keeping an eye on McGrath’s form.
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