DOUGIE IMRIE last night admitted he was delighted to prove everyone wrong yet again as he bravely led Hamilton Accies into a record fourth season in the Premiership.

And with a glint in his eye he was happy to announce that he looked forward to doing the same again next year.

Imrie, who played with badly bruised ribs, was one of the many stars for Accies in their 1-0 play-off win against Dundee United.

The Lanarkshire side are perennial favourites for relegation but are still there while bigger clubs such as Hearts, St Mirren and yesterday's opponents United have gone down.

Imrie said: "We are absolutely delighted. I thought we were the better team over the two games so we deserve to stay in the league.

"Credit to United and especially goalkeeper Cammy Bell, who pulled off some great saves over the two legs, but the better team went through.

"People keep saying we're going to get relegated, but we keep proving them wrong, although I'm sure people will still tip us again next year.

We made it hard for ourselves because we were comfortable going into the split, but we did it the hard way.

"You can see the spirit we have here, but it's nervy when you're in these games."

Imrie is a real talisman for his club. His ribs took a battering from Blair Spittal in the first half and yet he somehow lasted the 90 minutes.

He admitted: "I played through injury, but the adrenalin gets you through. I've been in a lot of pain and popped a lot of pills, but it's worth it to be playing in the Premiership next season.

"I got done by the young boy Spittal fairly early on and at that time, I couldn't breathe and thought I was done, but adrenalin got me through it."

Hamilton were the better team over both games and yesterday were stronger and more streetwise.

Indeed, United goalkeeper Bell was his side's best player.

His first-half save which denied Ali Crawford was superb, while his brave block on Imrie with the scores still level was typical of his performance over 180 minutes.

However, the Accies were not to be denied.

With 64 minutes on the clock, Hamilton's Scott McMann passed through a number of United player to Crawford who had his back to goal on the edge of the box.

His pass to Greg Docherty allowed the midfielder some precious time to aim his shot past two rushing defenders and along the ground into the bottom corner.

United were beaten there and then.

The scenes at the end were incredible. Accies boss Martin Canning has had to put up with a lot this season, bad luck, poor performances and more than a few of his own supporters having a go, so it was good to see him beside himself with joy by the end.

He would have been well within his rights to hit back at his doubters, however, he was as dignified as always.

Canning said: "Everyone gets frustrated but when you are Hamilton Accies and in the Premiership it's never going to be plain sailing.

"Everyone stuck together through the hard times, the fans were great and gave us some loud backing.

"One thing they will always get from me and from everyone here is one hundred percent effort and I think they saw that today.

"It was a strange game because you wonder if you should celebrate doing what you set out to do - but then the emotions come into it."

Accies have no right to be in the top league and yet here there are, four years in a row, and that is some achievement.

Canning said: "We always get written off and you can sort of understand it when you look at the budget and the size of the club.

"This is the first time ever Hamilton has been in the top league for four years in a row, so we've made a bit of history.

"There was a lot riding on this game and thankfully for us we managed to win and stay up.

"We had a lot of injuries and had players playing injured, but the spirit in the squad is incredible. They all performed even though there is a lot of pressure."