• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

St Mirren Hamilton 2: Crawford leaves signature on away win

THE small Lanarkshire town of Carluke has a history of producing potent goalscorers.

Ali Crawford scored twice as Hamilton registered their first league points since returning to the  top flight. Picture: SNS
Ali Crawford scored twice as Hamilton registered their first league points since returning to the top flight. Picture: SNS

For years Dougie Arnott, a lifelong resident of the Royal Burgh, jinked his way through more bemused defences than you could shake a stick at for Motherwell, scoring more than 60 goals in a long and fruitful spell at Fir Park.

A season or so later, an unknown young striker called Lee McCulloch served his apprenticeship at Carluke Rovers, spending a productive spell at Loch Park before graduating from the Juniors to join Arnott at Motherwell. A generation on and the former mining town may have unearthed its next gem. His name is Ali Crawford.

The wiry 23-year-old, despite his youthful looks, is far from a new face in the first team at Hamilton Academmical, since he first burst on to the scene during the New Douglas Park side's last spell in the top flight before playing an integral part in getting the club back there last season.

Yet last night may yet prove to be a pivotal night for the red-haired midfielder. Crawford utilised all of his pace, his nous and his sense of timing to score the two goals which sank St Mirren in this, earning Hamilton their first SPFL Premiership points in the process.

Both strikes came from outside the penalty area - the second requiring a fair dose of luck to take it beyond goalkeeper Marian Kello - on what was as good a night for Alex Neil's players as it was a draining one for Tommy Craig's.

The wind of change which has blown through the St Mirren team appeared to be more of an attacking whirlwind against Motherwell on Saturday as the Paisley club pushed and pulled at the Motherwell defence, with only bad luck denying them at times. Last night that force of nature was more of a huff and puff and despite having most of the possession in either half, an effort from John McGinn which was swiped off the line by Jesus Garcia Tena was perhaps their best effort.

"We never dominated possession like I know we can, and it's hard to try and put your finger on why that is," said Craig afterwards.

Unlike their Lanarkshire counterparts, Hamilton seemed content to draw their hosts out as the Paisley side went in search of a home win, with James Marwood enjoying a tenacious start to his Paisley debut.

Yet despite the odd scare, this approach allowed the visitors space when they did break forward, with Crawford making the most of it to open the scoring after 19 minutes. The midfielder picked up a loose ball in space and in the centre of the pitch, with the St Mirren defence exposed. Despite having options on either side, Crawford saw a gap appear between the retreating centre-backs and rifled a low left-foot shot under Kello from 20 yards, sending the 265 Hamilton supporters into a wild - if modestly-sized - frenzy behind the other goal.

In the second half it was much of the same as St Mirren's possession play failed to create any clear-cut chances, with Ross Caldwell having replaced Gregg Wylde by this stage.

At the other end St Mirren's defence continued to look isolated, with Mickael Antoine Courier only fluffing his shot after a delightful, dinked cross from Danny Redmond had found the Hamilton striker open on the break.

However, it took Crawford only three minutes to score a second goal. Ellis Plummer, the St Mirren centre-half, appeared to scuff a clearance and the ball bobbled to the Carluke man on the edge of the area. Crawford's half-volley flew into a packed box, taking a decisive touch off of an unsuspecting Marc McAusland, and rebounded into the net.

It could have been worse for St Mirren, who introduced Gary Teale, the player-coach, after 58 minutes to try to conjure something more convincing in attack, with Crawford firing another shot straight at Kello, before Martin Canning and Courier both went close.

There was a late flurry from Craig's side, with a host of cross balls failing to result in a lifeline which did not look in reach for much of the second half. In the end it didn't matter; St Mirren's race had been run, while Hamilton cantered over the line with Crawford, Carluke's latest protege, the toast of Hamilton.

"We try and play open and expansive football," said Neil of his side's performance. "There is no pressure on us from anyone and we are just trying to do what we do to the best of our ability."

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

254454