By Ben McNicol
St Johnstone pulled themselves further clear of the relegation zone as they won a vital six-pointer 1-0 in South Lanarkshire against Hamilton.
The only goal arrived ten minutes from time when Alistair McCann slammed home Callum Hendry’s cut-back to score his first goal for the Perthshire side.
It was far from a Christmas classic in Hamilton. With the first half seeing zero shots on target, both goalkeepers were spectators for most of the 90 minutes.
As the second half got underway, nothing changed, and it looked set to be a stalemate.
Credit must go to Tommy Wright, who made a game-changing move as he brought on Callum Hendry. The 22-year old nearly broke the deadlock with his first touch of the ball as his goal-bound volley looked to have struck the hand of Sam Stubbs, but referee Gavin Duncan remained unmoved.
The 442 travelling fans will have had fond memories of the last time Hendry came on against Accies back in October, where his last-gasp winner helped St Johnstone win their first game of the season.
Hendry’s appearance lifted the visitors and they broke the deadlock on the 80th minute. Some superb link-up play between Hendry and McCann led to the substitute setting it up perfectly for McCann, who coolly slotted home from 8-yards out.
The win moves St Johnstone up to ninth, seven points clear of Hearts while Hamilton remain second bottom. Here are three things we learned.
Hamilton crying out for a creative midfielder
It’s evident to see that Brian Rice is needing a creative midfielder in the January. Mickel Miller has been playing as a striker in recent weeks and Blair Alston is just coming back from a lengthy injury. Accies have had to play longball for most of the season and the results are showing that it isn’t working.
They need someone who can put their foot on the ball and pick out a pass on a consistent basis. Someone like Ali Crawford or Danny Redmond, who both brought flair to the Accies engine room.
McCann scores his first St Johnstone goal
It was certainly a day to remember for 20-year old McCann, who scored his first goal for the Saints.
After being sent on loan to League One side Stranraer last season, the midfielder has featured in every single game so far this season under Tommy Wright, which shows how highly the youngster is thought of.
His first goal couldn’t have been timed any better as it secured back to back away wins and continues the Saints fine vein of form as they are extended their unbeaten run to four games.
After last Saturday’s win against Hearts, there was a huge sigh of relief and also expectation of another good performance coming into the Boxing Day fixture with St Johnstone. Accies were below-par though and failed to test Zander Clark.
Unfortunately, this is becoming a recurring theme for Hamilton in recent games and creating chances is proving to be a huge problem. They have averaged two shots on target in their last six games and have failed to have an attempt on goal in two of those games.
There were plenty of boo’s ringing around the Fountain of Youth Stadium at full-time on Thursday after another disappointing result. Life doesn’t get much easier for Hamilton as they take the short trip to Motherwell for the Lanarkshire Derby on Sunday.