Devastation for United as Hamilton win the play-off to retain their place in the SPFL Premier League meaning we will play Championship football for at least another year.
By Tommy McKay
Backed by a considerable and vocal travelling support United started the match on the front foot and could have taken the lead in the fifth Minute. Spittal’s mishit corner fell perfectly to Andreu at the near post and his goal bound effort was blocked at the near post and turned out for another corner.
Mikkelsen then had a chance to punish a poor kick out from Matthews in the Hamilton goal however he was adjudged to have used a hand when blocking the clearance.
On 10 minutes Accies had their first chance to test Bell. After a loose ball in midfield by Flood was collected by Bingham, he then fed Crawford on the edge of the box however his effort lacked any placement or power and was easily collected by Bell.
Ten minutes later Crawford again tried his luck, this time from a free kick which flew over Bell’s crossbar. At this stage Hamilton were by far the better team and on 24 minutes Hamilton should have taken the lead. Telfer was caught in possession and again Crawford tried his luck. This time Bell could only parry his effort back into the box and despite Bingham and Redmond doing their best to finish from three yards, Dixon made a heroic clearance and the danger was gone.
Crawford was at the centre of everything Hamilton were doing and it was no surprise when he was involved again in 28 minutes. After Redmond’s free kick from wide on the left was blocked, it fell to the Hamilton Talisman who brought a fantastic save out of Bell who threw himself to his right to turn the ball clear.
Matthew in the Hamilton goal had had a quiet afternoon until he was tested on 40 minutes by his own player. Andreu played the ball to Telfer whose cross was met by McCann however his attempted headed clearance was about to fly into the roof of his own net had it not been for the reflexes of on loan Matthew in the Hamilton goal.
Matthew was on hand to make a routine save from Dixon on 52 minutes when his shot, from a Mikkelsen cross, was driven in by Dixon however his shot was straight at the goalkeeper who gathered easily.
On 57 minutes Imrie coul have and should have scored for Hamilton. Substitute Longridge crossed the ball in from left and despite it eluding Bingham, it fell perfectly for Imrie at the back post three yards out but Bell was alert to the danger and made a fantastic block.
It was looking like a matter of time for Hamilton and sure enough the deadlock was broken on 64 minutes. Greg Docherty collected the ball 25 yards from goal and his effort was drilled into the bottom corner. At that stage nothing had separated the sides in over 2 ½ hours of football.
Three minutes later United had their best chance of the second half. Andreu collected a poor kick out from Matthews, drove at the Hamilton defence but, when he couldn’t get a shot off, found Spittal, whose shot was blocked and went out for a corner.
The clearest chance of the match fell for Murray on 84 minutes, with the striker running onto a long ball forward and driving into the left-hand side of the Hamilton box however he couldn’t keep his right foot shot down and it flew harmlessly over Matthews’s crossbar.
In a last-ditch attempt to find the equaliser McKinnon threw Durnan upfront to try to play for the 2nd ball and on 90 minutes this almost paid off after a long throw from Dixon eventually found Mikkelsen however his overhead kick was easily gathered by Matthews.
Murray had one further attempt to find the equaliser but again the strike lacked power and placement and again Matthews gleefully gathered with easy.
As Craig Thompson signalled the end of the game the United players’ and fans’ hearts collectively sunk as the reality of Championship football for at least another season became reality.
It is now the job of the fans to rally behind the Club and that of Ray and his management team to ensure that we emerge as Champions next season.
Man of the Match: Cammy Bell – Kept United in the game for as long as he could with a string of excellent saves yet it was another cruel play-off experience for our captain.
Hamilton Academical: Matthews, Skondras, Gillespie, Imrie ©, Docherty (Lyon), Redmond, Crawford, Gogic, Bingham (Sarris), Templeton (Longridge)
Subs not used: Watson, Cunningham, S Boyd, Jamieson
Booked: Docherty, Sarris, Longridge
Dundee United: Bell ©, Dillon, Dixon, Durnan, Spittal, Murray, Edjenguele, Flood, Telfer (Fraser), Mikkelsen, Andreu
Subs not used: Zwick (GK), Donaldson, Toshney, Robson, Allardice, Nicholls
Referee: Craig Thompson
Assistants: Alan Mulvanny, Sean Carr