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Hit single tips balance in favour of new kids on the block

A week into the season and the first chance to talk of a game of two halves, this time at New Douglas Park on Saturday.

In each of the 45-minute spells, the SPFL Premiership's newest club, Hamilton Academical, showed different sides of their game. The scoreline, though, remained the same.

In the first half, they were free flowing and swashbuckling, taking the game to St Johnstone and going into a deserved lead through midfielder Darian MacKinnon after 16 minutes. Yet, when their visitors belatedly got going after the interval, Hamilton knuckled down, weathered the storm and completed their second victory in the top flight with a steely resolve and pats on the back all round.

A week on from their defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle on the first day of the season, the picture is a lot brighter for Hamilton and the mood far more upbeat. The rewards for their efforts, three points, are paramount as they try to preserve their place in the Premiership, but Alex Neil and his players, a mix of brains and brawn, remain committed to doing things their way.

"The gaffer says to all the boys to go and play, to express yourself and enjoy the game," Martin Canning, the Hamilton captain, said. "It's up to the big ugly guys at the back like me to get the ball back and stop them scoring. That's our job - to allow these guys to go and play. When you give good players freedom to play you see what they can do. It must be great to be that kind of player and have a manager that believes in you.

"You need a good balance. You've got to have guys like Ali [Crawford] at the top end who can hurt teams but you've also got to be able to keep it tight. If the balance is right, results like today's will happen."

Hamilton may only have converted one of the chances that came their way in the first half but that did not prove to be their undoing. After turning on the style for 45 minutes and being cheered off the park, the second period was a chance for Canning and his defence to play their part. They rode their luck at times - Steven Anderson and Steven MacLean both hitting the woodwork as St Johnstone improved markedly after the break - but stood firm to make it six points from their first seven days at this level.

"It's a great result for us," Canning said. "After the Inverness game, we realised how hard it was going to be. But the last two games have been different class in terms of the boys' attitude."

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