AS the teams emerged at the Foys Stadium yesterday, the Celtic supporters congregated behind the goal unfurled a banner that read ‘Overcharging the fans, underselling the game’. You certainly couldn’t sue them for the first of those accusations, particularly on this evidence.

As for the second charge, there is indeed a lot to love about Scottish football that should see it bring in a higher wedge from the likes of sponsorship and broadcasting on the whole, but lunchtime kick-offs at Hamilton probably wouldn’t feature high on the list of the Premiership’s USP’s. There is a lot to admire about Hamilton too, with their stubborn refusal to be the league’s whipping boys despite the odds stacked against them, but their brand of stuffy resistance deployed against Celtic isn’t exactly box office.

That isn’t Brian Rice’s concern nor his team’s though, and although an early lapse saw them edged out by Celtic by a solitary James Forrest strike, they will come away from the game perhaps the happier of the two camps despite finishing empty-handed. One other thing you can’t take away from Hamilton is their aptitude for producing players, and in Lewis Smith – by some distance their best player – they might just have unearthed another gem.

His manager Brian Rice worked with a young Ryan Christie up at Inverness, and he sees parallels between the two.

“Ryan is very similar to young Lewis and I have said to Lewis look at his clips, how he receives the ball, everything he does," Rice said.

“He is a joy to work with but it is down to him. I can give him the platform but he has to perform on it.

“Right now he is enjoying it and I enjoy watching him. I thought he did very, very well today.”

From Celtic’s point of view, the fact they recorded their fifth straight league win was one of the few positives to be garnered from the occasion, although Mohamed Elyounoussi was impressive on his debut and Tom Rogic made his long-awaited return to action after injury.

In the lead-up to the game, Celtic manager Neil Lennon had told his players that the match was just as important as the one that preceded the international break at Ibrox against Rangers, but their performance was markedly below that standard. The second half in particular was a right old slog.

Elyounoussi didn’t take long to make an impression. He almost got on the scoresheet in the opening seconds as his volley was blocked by a last-gasp challenge, but he made his mark moments later.

A wonderful touch by Odsonne Edouard with his back to goal set him on his way, and the winger got his head up to pick out the arriving Forrest, who sidefooted home from six yards.

Elyounoussi wasn’t content with hanging around on the left wing and waiting for the game to come to him, continually drifting in and picking up dangerous positions.

The visitors at this stage were showing the many detractors of Hamilton’s pitch that as unfit as it is for top-flight football, you can actually play some decent passing football on it. The problem was that despite their overwhelming dominance, for the most part the passing was in front of the packed home defence and lacking in penetration. Later, when the pitch dried up in the wind, it became even more difficult to play with any real zip or purpose.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first, and Celtic went close to doubling their lead as Forrest jinked to find space in the box and fire a left-foot effort that Owain Fon Williams did brilliantly to fingertip onto the bar.

Celtic lost their way a little after that, and Hamilton, spurred on by the excellent youngster Smith, started to carry the fight to the visitors at last.

That prompted Celtic boss Lennon to look to his bench and pull Rogic out of cold storage, the Australian replacing Elyounoussi for his first appearance since the Scottish Cup final.

Still though Accies grew in confidence, and Blair Alston fired one over from the edge of the box to serve notice that this game wasn’t quite put to bed just yet, before substitute Marios Ogkmpoe dragged an effort across goal and wide.

There was a concern for Celtic as centre-half Christopher Jullien went down clutching his head after a clash with Ogkmpoe, particularly with the Europa League group opener away to Rennes looming on the horizon this week, but after a lengthy spell of treatment the Frenchman recovered and should be ok for the return to his homeland.

“I’ve just spoken to him and he’s fine," said his manager Lennon. "He thought I was Boris Becker! He’s all right. He should be fine for Rennes."

The tempo of the game though had never threatened to recover after the first few minutes, and despite that late Accies rally, the contest staggered to its conclusion with the defeated home fans applauding the efforts of their favourites, and the victorious away support shuffling out of the ground with other complaints to add to their list of gripes beyond the pricing of the tickets.