Livingston booked their place in the Scottish Premiership’s top six for the 2020/21 season with a 2-1 victory over Hamilton Accies.
The game needed a spark to get things going and that came courtesy of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Nicky Devlin was given time and space inside the Accies penalty area and he rolled a pass into the feet of Emmanuel-Thomas. The former Arsenal man still had plenty of work to do before attempting a shot, but he flicked the ball up with one touch and smashed a volley into the top corner with his second on the spin.
While they did struggle to keep hold of the ball after Livingston took the lead, Accies did look dangerous on the break with Aberdeen loanee Bruce Anderson looking lively on the counter. A loose ball in the middle of park allowed Brian Rice’s men a brief possession spell and they made good use of it.
Callum Smith ran at the Lions backline and thundered a shot low into the bottom corner. Accies were level once again and the goal would have been a reminder for Livingston that this Hamilton side should never be written off. Accies did well to haul themselves level and they would need to do it all over again shortly after getting level.
Livi bodies piled into the Accies penalty area once again and after taking a couple of ricochets inside the box, the ball found its way to Scott Pittman, who appeared to chest it beyond Ryan Fulton and into back of the net.
With important points still up for grabs, Hamilton could not afford to let heads dip after the restart and Rice didn’t waste time in looking to the bench for some inspiration. Right-back Lee Hodson was hooked 10 minutes into the second half and replaced by midfielder Ronan Hughes.
Accies grew into the game throughout the second 45 knowing that a point could be crucial in their fight for survival, but aside from a Ross Callachan shot, Hamilton could not test Robby McCrorie in the Lions goal as the match finished 2-1 to the home side, securing their place in the top six. Accies remain in the relegation play-off spot. Here are three things we learned.
Timing is key
After an incredible run of 14 games with defeat for the Lions, their form dropped after a defeat to St Johnstone in early February. Martindale’s side hadn’t won in six prior to this contest but a key victory was secured against Accies.
With Livi back to winning ways, David Martindale has delivered a top six finish to the Lions, a remarkable achievement in successive seasons given the resources in West Lothian.
Accies at the double
Hamilton will have been buoyed in their fight to avoid the drop with two of their key players this season agreeing to contract extensions. Club captain Brian Easton extended his stay in Lanarkshire by a further year with his defensive counterpart Hakeem Odoffin also agreeing to stay on.
Signing Odoffin up for the foreseeable future is an excellent piece of business by Accies as he is arguably their most crucial player, given his impact and versatility. It wasn’t to be against his former side though.
Tight at the bottom
Hamilton have now played the same number of games as relegation rivals Kilmarnock and Ross County. The Ayrshire side sit bottom of the table by a point but have a significantly better goal difference than Accies.
Ross County are three points clear of Rice’s side and are far from safe but appear capable of plucking results from nowhere. It’s going to be a tight one at the bottom as the season draws to a close.
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