Hamilton 1-1 Dundee United 12/02/11

Graham Baird reports…

Hamilton’s hopes of SPL survival took a dent today as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Dundee United at New Douglas Park.

Hamilton looked to be heading for their first home victory of the season, until United striker Andis Shala struck in the 83rd minute to deny the home side victory.

The pressure was on Hamilton before a ball was kicked in Saturday’s league clash, with manager Billy Reid challenging his team to take four of a possible six points from the next two league clashes. A daunting task given Reid’s side hadn’t picked up a single win this year.

Dundee United went into the game hoping to pick up their first three points in February. With Hamilton hoping to avoid relegation and United chasing a European spot, the clash at New Douglas Park promised to be entertaining.

In the opening stages of the game, neither side were able to get a firm grip on the match with some slack possession and few efforts on goal.

The first real chance of the game came to Hamilton’s Flavio Paixao. Some neat work from Jim McAlister allowed Mickael Antonie-Curier to lay on, only for Paixao to fire well wide of the target.

United almost took the lead with their first opportunity in the 13th minute of the game. Scott Robertson found David Goodwillie in the box with a lovely floated cross, only for the striker to head wide of the stranded Tomas Cerny’s post.

In the 20th minute of the game United almost found the breakthrough after some suicide defending from Mark McLaughlin. With McLaughlin having failed to deal with a long ball, Craig Conway nipped in only to see his volleyed effort parried away by Cerny.

Hamilton were starting to look shaky in possession and no sooner than a minute after Conway’s effort United should have taken the lead. Goodwillie was played in down the right by Conway with the striker firing across the goal line, only for Russell failing to connect and go agonisingly close with the goal at his mercy.

The game came to life in the 34th minute when Hamilton were awarded a penalty after Prince Buaben was deemed to have fouled Gary Skelton inside the area. Mickael Antoine-Curier stepped up to take the penalty, firing it confidently into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

Hamilton star Curier was on the score sheet again

Peter Houston’s men almost replied immediately through David Goodwillie, with the striker nearly finding a gap at the heart of the Hamilton defence, only to see his effort deflected for a corner.

Just short of half time Dundee United had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Alan Muir. Paul Dixon went over just inside the area, but the appeals went on deaf ears as the home side cleared the ball to safety.

When the sides returned for the second half it was much of the same as we’d seen in the first half. In the 49th minute the home support thought they’d doubled their lead when Antoine-Curier fired past Dusan Pernis, only to find the offside flag up on the far side.

Things took a turn for the worst in the 52nd minute when United’s Prince Buaben and Antoine-Curier squared up after a clash in the middle of the park. The two players went head to head, grabbing each other by the throat as tempers frayed out of control. As the officials moved in to defuse the situation, both players received a booking for their troubles.

Peter Houston moved to freshen things up just short of the hour mark by introducing Danny Swanson and Stuart Armstrong to the action, replacing Prince Buaben and David Robertson.

The second half was somewhat of a scrappy affair with both sides wasting possession repeatedly and creating little in the final third of the park.

Damian Casalinuovo should have wrapped up the points in the 75th minute for the home side when he went through on Dusan Pernis’s goal. Having disposed of Sean Dillon, and with the goal wide open the striker fluffed his effort with the ball trailing wide of goal much to the home supports dismay.

Chances were becoming hard to come by, with United’s Sean Dillon attempting an audacious acrobatic effort from inside the area, only to see his effort cleared to safety.

Hamilton looked to be heading for their first home win of the season until substitute Andid Shala struck in the 83rd minute. A cross from the left by Craig Conway was met by Shala who had climbed above the defence to head into Cerny’s far post, leaving the goalkeeper no chance of stopping the effort.

Having been agonisingly close to their first home win of the season, the home support were willing their team forward in search of a winner in the latter stages.

Just as it looked as though the spoils would be shared by both teams, David Goodwillie almost snatched the points for the visitors in the dying minutes. Having overcome some poor defending from Simon Mensing, the striker should have found the net instead seeing Tomas Cerny save his effort on goal.

Over the piece a draw was the result the game merited, with neither side fully deserving of the victory.

After today’s draw with United, it’s hard to see where Billy Reid’s Hamilton side now go from here. Seven points adrift of nearest side St Mirren, the Accies time in the SPL appears to be running out. With league games against Hibs, Celtic and a trip to Tannadice coming up, the pressure is on the leagues basement dwellers to start delivering results, or face next year playing their football in the first division.

For United, they stay seventh, still with three games in hand and nine priceless points at stake which could catapult them to the top half of the table.


Teams:

Hamilton:

1. Cerny

2. Skelton

6. McLaughlin

7. Imrie

8. McDonald

11. McAlister

18. Paixao (45, Carrington)

22. Routledge

25. Elebert

27. Mensing

99. Antoine Curier (67, Casalinuovo)

SUBS:

19. Murdoch (GK)

5. Graham

9. Casalinuovo

12. Buchanan

13. Carrington

17. Crawford


Dundee Utd:

1. Pernis

2. Dillon

3. Dixon

6. Conway

7. Robertson (S)

12. Robertson (D)(54, Armstrong)

15. Prince Bauben (54, Swanson)

21. Van der meulen (74, Shala)

23. Watson

25. Goodwillie

27. Russell

SUBS:

28. Mentel (GK)

14.Swanson

16. Gomis

17. Douglas

20. Shala

30. Dow

43. Armstrong

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