Hamilton Academical’s stay in the Scottish Premiership is all but over after Ross County’s 2-1 comeback win in Dingwall.
Kilmarnock’s draw with St Mirren means Hamilton can still finish 11th, but they need to win on Sunday by a nine-goal margin against the Rugby Park side. They had the lead through Scott McMann before Blair Spittal and Birmingham City loanee Charlie Lakin condemned them. County need a point away to Motherwell to secure their league status.
Tensions were running high through the camps and it was clear to see from the off. Rash challenges flew in whilst referee Willie Collum dished out two yellow cards just three minutes in. Hamilton had the first chance of the game, but their corner was swung in only as far as the grateful arms of Ross Laidlaw.
After some scrappy defending, County had given a very cheap free kick on the edge of the box. McMann stepped up to take it and the left back easily finished it under the wall, leaving Laidlaw glued to the line. It was a nightmare for County as once again they had conceded an avoidable goal.
After some stern words from skipper Iain Vigurs, the Staggies put themselves back in the game within a flash. The ball fell right at the feet of Spittal who curled the ball beyond an outstretched Kyle Gourlay to draw the Highland side level. The game had massively opened up, and it was once again all to play for in the fight to avoid the drop.
Spittal was a constant threat early in the second half. His quality deliveries into the box from the right hand side were perfect, but no County men could get on the end of them.
Ross County burst back onto the scene on the 70th minute mark, when the ball fell to deputising left-back Lakin. The Birmingham City talen arrowed a sweet left-footed strike into the bottom right corner. It was a fantastic goal and his fourth since arriving from Birmingham City, which grabbed the home side a much-needed lead.
David Moyo came ever so close to drawing the Accies level when he headed just over from a Regan Mimnaugh free kick. In the dying embers, Harry Paton should have put the game to bed but he could only hit the side netting after going one on one with Gourlay. Here are three things we learned.
Struggle for Accies
After a 2-1 loss in Dingwall, the best that Hamilton can achieve is finishing in the play-off places. It has been looming and thus confirms a seismic mountain will have to be climbed if Accies are to avoid relegation after seven years in the top flight. They must win the match against 11th placed side Kilmarnock by nine goals.
Spittal was the standout for County. His perfect crossing and wing-play gave Ross County a real attacking platform. He has not looked out of place in the Premiership since returning from League One champions Partick Thistle. His goal was fantastic and could be one of County’s most important.
Final day to decide play-offs
Ross County aren’t quite home and dry yet. With Kilmarnock drawing against St Mirren, the point gap between Killie and County stands at three in Ross County’s favour. However, a lot can still change on the final day, especially with County’s looming goal difference. If Ross County draw the game, it will be enough.
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