For Motherwell, who had a wretched Lanarkshire derby day, it was out with the old and in with the… Yeah, right, ancient.
After Stephen Robinson and a prelude to the hot seat that Keith Lasley would like to quickly forget, the overmatched Hamilton Accies given a dismal start to life.
While the profligacy that marked the final days of Robinson’s tenure resurfaced, there were no such issues for the hosts, who, thanks to goals from Lee Hodson, Ross Callachan and Callum Smith, pulled away from the bottom of the table.
I could not ask for a better start to the year,”I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year,” I figured it was nice to get a point at St Johnstone, but this was extraordinary.
I’m delighted to play the first game of the new year, against our local rivals, and then score a goal. And when the score was 3-0, the fighting spirit and determination not to concede a goal was what pleased me the most.
The derby was a joy for Accies boss Rice to watch,
“I’ve had a group of young players who don’t play for the name on the back of the jersey, they play for the name on the front, and as long as they do that, I can’t complain.”
The halcyon days of Lanarkshire soccer are gradually forgotten as the years pass, and the cheering of a minute before the first game of 2021 – honoring Dundee United great Jim McLean and Johnny Divers, the strike partners of the Accies in the 1950s – served as a reminder of yesteryear’s accomplishments. Still, Hamilton delivered a game full of fire and brimstone as a timely tribute to the pair.
It was impossible to say for most of the first half that these were two teams with thoughts of competing for next season’s championship. That there was only one goal at the break on the video screen had as much to do with the shortcomings of the visitors as it did with the fine goalkeeping of Kyle Gourlay.
However, Accies had no such trouble converting their opportunities, and the scorer was the only shocking thing about the opening goal. With a strong save, Aaron Chapman had already stopped him, but when Hodson rose forward again and was cleverly set up by Andy Winter, the ball was too sharp for the keeper to handle and at the near post it bounced in.
At the other end, in the first half, Polworth and Co. couldn’t find a way to convert the ball into a target, whether by a misplaced pass here or Gourlay’s hands there.
With an early shot, Tony Watt struggled to reach the crossbar and Liam Polworth made a brilliant save from the Accies goalkeeper as Motherwell did all they could to strike back. It was the South Lanarkshire derby day, however, and Callachan became the leading man.
With his running, he broke down Motherwell’s poor defense and was rewarded five minutes after the break when he was on hand to latch onto the ball of David Moyo and slip the cross of the striker into the net.
When he fed Smith with an accurate cross which substitute Chapman was only too pleased to nod in, he later made sure of the final score. The only thing Lasley could do was place his head in his hands, look up at the sky and realize that the game had been determined, even though he still had half an hour to play.
“I’ve been at this club a long time and it’s been a difficult afternoon,” said Lasley. “It’s up to me to take the club forward. We’re disappointed and we have to be better than that. That’s the bottom line.”
Asked how the outcome could impact his chances of landing a full-time job, he said:
There’s no question about it, I don’t think it’s going to help. I’ll be truthful enough to say that. I hope it’s not the determining factor.
Keith Lasley had a debut in the stands to forget about
Since my thoughts are just on the near future, I don’t want to comment too much about the future.
For the fans and anyone affiliated with the club, I’m just sad. I’ve been here for a very long time and I feel so strong for the club that I’m frustrated and disappointed.
“Things are going to happen, but my goal is to try to change things in the short term.”