Aug 18 2011 By Andy McGilvray, Hamilton Advertsier
HAMILTON Accies put in a five-star show as they maintained their 100 per cent start to the 2011-12 season with an emphatic win over Ross County on Saturday.
Unlikely First Division top scorer Mark McLaughlin started the rout, with goals from Ali Crawford, James Chambers, Matt Paterson and Grant Anderson keeping Accies on top of the league on goal difference over Raith.
New Douglas Park boss Billy Reid made three changes to the side which eliminated Partick Thistle from the Ramsdens Cup in midweek, with Lee Kilday and David Hopkirk dumped to the bench while Willie McLaren was out of the squad entirely.
In their place came Stephen Hendrie, McLaughlin and Dougie Imrie, the latter of whom set up four of the five goals.
County actually had the better of the opening exchanges, and Accies keeper Tomas Cerny proved his worth in 17 minutes when he did well to parry a stinging Rocco Quinn drive, but even better to gather at the feet of Steven Craig, who was closing in on the rebound.
Michael Gardyne was perhaps fortunate to escape a booking for a scything foul on Jim McAlister as he tore down the wing in 21 minutes, but it was ultimately to lead to Hamilton’s opener.
Imrie’s free-kick was played back out to him, and his curling cross was met with a powerful header by Chambers which Michael Fraser brilliantly punched over.
Imrie’s sent the resulting corner onto the head of Paterson, whose effort was cleared off the line at the left post by Gary Miller, only for McLaughlin to fire the rebound high into the net for a 23rd-minute opener.
This seemed to fire County to life and two minutes later Gardyne could have done better than head a Miller cross over the bar.
But two goals in as many minutes would kill this game as a contest.
In 39 minutes Imrie sent over a delightful floating ball to Crawford on the left side of the box, who snaked out his right leg to calmly side-foot into the bottom right corner with a controlled volley, leaving Fraser wrong-footed.
It got worse for County in 41 minutes when Jonathan Flynn hauled Paterson down in the box as he chased onto a long through-ball, resulting in an early bath for him and a penalty for Accies, which Chambers confidently rammed into the bottom left corner.
Accies threatened early in the second half when Hendrie played a delightful ball down the left and Paterson’s shot on the turn was brilliantly punched past the left post by Fraser.
But Imrie capitalised on a defensive howler in 57 minute and with a deft flick of his left boot released Paterson, who checked inside a defender before drilling the ball into the bottom-right corner.
County pulled a goal back in 78 minutes when Scott Morrison’s corner on the right was knocked in by sub Kurtis Byrne from close range.
Seven minutes later sub Scott Boyd was unlucky to see his angled diving header bounce just past the right post.
But Accies completed the rout in the last minute when Simon Mensing released sub Anderson and he checked inside before a deflected effort left Fraser helpless as it bounced into the bottom right corner to complete the rout.
HAMILTON: Cerny, McAlister, Hendrie, Canning, Mensing, McLaughlin, Imrie (Lyle, 80), Gillespie (Anderson, 70), Paterson, Chambers (Hopkirk, 62), Crawford. Subs (not used): Hutton, Kilday.
Booked: Imrie, McLaughlin.
ROSS COUNTY: Fraser, Miller, Morrison, Flynn, Munro, Kettlewell, Gardyne (Boyd, 44), Brittain, McMenamin (Byrne, 66), Craig, Quinn (Corcoran, 74). Subs (not used): Malin, Lawson.
Sent off: Flynn.
Booked: Quinn, Brittain.
Referee: Calum Murray.
Advertiser Man of the Match: Dougie Imrie – enjoyed a good day and had a hand in almost all of the goals.