Scottish Premiership - Play-offs - 1st Leg
Hamilton0Hibernian2

Hamilton Academical 0-2 Hibernian

Hibernian cast aside their insecurities to take the advantage in the Premiership play-off final first leg against Hamilton at New Douglas Park.

They were expected to struggle against Accies, but it was the Championship side that flagged after goals either side of half-time by Jason Cummings, the first two goals of his career.

The opener was a strike from distance that Kevin Cuthbert should have saved.

Then a close-range chip gave Terry Butcher's side a comfortable lead.

But there were other regrets for the home side, since Tony Andreu and Ali Crawford both saw second-half efforts blocked by Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams.

Endurance was obligatory. This was only the opening 90 minutes of the Premiership play-off, with the second leg to come in Edinburgh on Sunday, but as well as the physical demands there were mental pressures to contend with.

Hibs had to overcome their own crisis of confidence as well as the perky confidence of their Championship hosts.

From every perspective, this tie was potentially a fearful occasion for Butcher's men. They came into it having won only once in their last 19 games, whereas their opponents were on a run of only one loss in 15 matches.

Hamilton have also revelled in a bountiful supply of goals this season, while the scarcity of reliable scorers at Hibs has been a critical flaw.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Interview - Hibernian manager Terry Butcher

Butcher has never shirked a confrontation, though, and he made bold choices in his starting line-up. They might have arisen from a sense that there was nothing left to lose, but it was still risky to select Paul Heffernan, who has only just returned from injury, and the youngsters Sam Stanton, Alex Harris and Cummings for such a critical tie.

The reward was a refusal to be cowed. Hamilton had sensed a fragility in Hibs' psyche, and the intention was to prey on it. Accies boss Alex Neil spoke beforehand of his team's confidence and the certainties of his decision-making, as though Hibs could initially be diminished by comparison.

There was a forthright air to the home side, though, and it was epitomised by the aggressive running of Mikael Antoine-Curier.

Subtlety was cast aside as an irrelevance whenever the centre-forward set off on one of his thunderous forward surges, but the lack of composure eventually told when it came to delivering the final ball or taking a shot at goal.

He ought, for instance, to have tried to head the ball when he reached it before Williams, following a poor defensive header. The volley cannoned off the goalkeeper to safety.

Hamilton were capable of some cohesive passages of play, but raggedness was always evident as they tried to make something happen in front of goal. That anxiety was understandable, but the occasion demanded cooler heads.

Louis Longridge should have done better than shoot over when he found a corner of space inside the penalty area. The rashness could be excused as players being overly-eager to make an impact. Even so, it was damaging for Hamilton, particularly when the mis-judgement spread to Cuthbert in goal.

Jason Cummings scores for Hibernian against Hamilton
Cummings' opener dipped and swerved on its way into the net

He seemed to be well-positioned to take Cummings's shot from 25 yards and while the ball might have swerved in mid-air, it still seemed to brush the goalkeeper's hands on its way in. Relief was probably the more powerful response for Hibs.

It certainly lasted the interval, since the second half was barely 10 minutes old when 18-year-old Cummings added his second.

A run and cross by Heffernan ended with the ball landing at the teenager's feet inside the penalty area and he could call upon the poise and presence of mind to chip a shot over the line, although Ziggy Gordon hacked the ball away and the officials paused briefly before confirming the goal.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Interview - Hamilton manager Alex Neil

Desperation became the driving force for Hamilton. There were moments of hope, but even the generally impressive Andreu could only bemoan his luck when Williams blocked at his feet from close range.

Then Williams scrambled away Crawford's shot from distance.

"You're staying down with the Jambos," sang the Hibs fans in reference to relegated city rivals Hearts. That outcome is not yet sealed, but a weight has been lifted from the Easter Road side.

Line-ups

Hamilton

  • 1Cuthbert
  • 6Gillespie
  • 2Gordon
  • 8RoutledgeSubstituted forCrawfordat 84'minutes
  • 5CanningBooked at 82mins
  • 24Tena
  • 22Andreu
  • 18MacKinnon
  • 99Antoine-Curier
  • 17LongridgeSubstituted forScotlandat 73'minutes
  • 7KeatingsSubstituted forRyanat 52'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Devlin
  • 10Neil
  • 11Crawford
  • 19Currie
  • 32Ryan
  • 33Kilday
  • 50Scotland

Hibernian

  • 1Williams
  • 18Maybury
  • 16Stevenson
  • 10Craig
  • 5NelsonBooked at 90mins
  • 3McGivern
  • 7Harris
  • 8RobertsonBooked at 21minsSubstituted forTudur Jonesat 90'minutes
  • 35CummingsSubstituted forCairneyat 85'minutes
  • 26Stanton
  • 24Heffernan

Substitutes

  • 11Cairney
  • 14Collins
  • 17Tudur Jones
  • 21Murdoch
  • 23Forster
  • 33Haynes
  • 38Thomson
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
5,322

Match Stats

Home TeamHamiltonAway TeamHibernian
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home11
Away6
Shots on Target
Home4
Away2
Corners
Home5
Away2
Fouls
Home11
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Hamilton Academical 0, Hibernian 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Hamilton Academical 0, Hibernian 2.

Attempt missed. Liam Craig (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Booking

Michael Nelson (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card.

Tony Andreu (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Michael Nelson (Hibernian).

Attempt missed. Ali Crawford (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Substitution

Substitution, Hibernian. Owain Tudur-Jones replaces Scott Robertson.

Jason Scotland (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Samuel Stanton (Hibernian).

Attempt saved. Ali Crawford (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Ziggy Gordon (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Paul Cairney (Hibernian).

Substitution

Substitution, Hibernian. Paul Cairney replaces Jason Cummings.

Substitution

Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Ali Crawford replaces Jon Routledge.

Booking

Martin Canning (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Martin Canning (Hamilton Academical).

Liam Craig (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jason Scotland (Hamilton Academical).

Alan Maybury (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Martin Canning.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Jason Cummings (Hibernian) because of an injury.

Foul by Jesus Garcia Tena (Hamilton Academical).

Scott Robertson (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Hamilton Academical. Conceded by Ben Williams.

Attempt saved. Andy Ryan (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Jason Scotland replaces Louis Longridge.

Foul by Tony Andreu (Hamilton Academical).

Liam Craig (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Louis Longridge (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

Foul by Andy Ryan (Hamilton Academical).

Lewis Stevenson (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Mickael Antoine-Curier (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Jesus Garcia Tena (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Alex Harris (Hibernian).

Attempt missed. Samuel Stanton (Hibernian) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Foul by Louis Longridge (Hamilton Academical).

Liam Craig (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

Top Stories