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Accies’ victory is cruel blow as Arbroath overtake Caley Thistle in pole position

Inverness defenders Robbie Deas (left) and Danny Devine look dejected after Hamilton make it 2-1.
Inverness defenders Robbie Deas (left) and Danny Devine look dejected after Hamilton make it 2-1.

Ifs and buts hung in the freezing fog on Saturday night as Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds reflected on a 2-1 defeat against ever-improving Hamilton.

It was the second time this season Accies had delivered this stinging scoreline. They dished out ICT’s first league loss in the Championship in October.

On both occasions, Inverness went into these fixtures as the league leaders against a side struggling to cope with their relegation from the Premiership last season.

Under Stuart Taylor, the former Ross County first-team coach, they’re improving, despite still being nine points away from fifth spot. That’s two closer than at kick-off.

Inverness’ striker Manny Duku challenges Hamilton’s match-winner Andrew Winter.

Dodds was reeling that Cameron Harper’s 65th-minute strike was wiped out by goals from David Moyo and Andrew Winter.

Opener from Harper raised the roof

Harper, who came on for the injured Aaron Doran in the first half, put ICT on course for victory and they looked likely to kill off their opponents.

If Shane Sutherland not had his shot saved by Joe Hilton moments after Harper netted then it could well have been a different story.

The buts at the end of the afternoon came from how the hosts allowed Hamilton to grasp control of the match and score twice to leave the Highlands with a victory.

Arbroath dug out a win against Morton, while Raith Rovers lost late on against Partick Thistle. That means Arbroath are now top on goal difference, level with ICT, with Rovers one point further back.

Early title favourites Kilmarnock sacked their manager Tommy Wright after their fixture against Dunfermline was abandoned due to fog, with the teams all square at 1-1.

It means Killie, who Caley Thistle have beaten twice, are five points off top place, but now with a game in hand as they seek a replacement.

Burst of pressure tilted the balance

Head coach Billy Dodds was scratching his head, wondering just how they ended up losing a match they looked more likely to win.

He said: “I knew Hamilton would be energetic, they have young lads, and they matched us, but I thought we dug in as well and there were no clear-cut chances (in the first half).

“In the second half, I was pleased and felt like we were getting it. We scored a great goal and had another couple of chances. The one with Shane Sutherland just after we scored, had that gone in, I thought we’d see the game out.

Caley Jags head coach Billy Dodds urges his side forward.

“We invited pressure a couple of times where we really needed to manage the game better, but I have trusted by boys all season to see out games.

“Hamilton kept going and got their equaliser and that gave them a real spring in their step. We dropped a runner at a set-piece and the game was done. They had 15-20 minutes of the second half. We were very unlucky not to take something from the game.”

Impressive midfielder Scott Allardice came closest to scoring in the first half, with a deflected shot, while Hamilton fired warning shots from Andy Ryan and Kyle Munro.

After the break, Caley Jags were knocking on the door, with chance after chance and their breakthrough was no shock.

Cameron Harper celebrates his goal for ICT before Hamilton hit back to win 2-1.

It came from Billy Mckay pin-point ball into the box and Harper, who has always been an attacking defender, slammed his shot past Hilton and his delight was evident as he raced to the crowd.

Hamilton hit back…at the double

Sutherland almost made it two and that save seemed to give Accies a new lease of life.

They enjoyed a spell in and around ICT’s box, with corners, crosses and free-kicks keeping the hosts on their toes.

However, they drew level when from a Reegan Mimnaugh delivery, Moyo buried a header beyond Mark Ridgers on 79 minutes.

Accies secured full points just a few minutes later when sub Winter, who has been sidelined for 10 months with a knee injury, converted from Josh Mullin’s corner.

Hamilton are a thorn in ICT’s side, having now only lost two of their last dozen matches at the Caledonian Stadium.

While this was another bump in the road for Caley Thistle, but they’re level top at the halfway point in the season.

Seeing off visitors Partick Thistle on Boxing Day would earn them their four league win in five and keep them firmly in the honours hunt approaching the New Year.

HOW THEY LINED UP –

CALEY THISTLE (4-4-1-1) – Ridgers 6, Deas 6 (Jamieson 85), Devine 6, Carson 6, Mckay 7, Doran 5 (Harper 39), Sutherland 7, Walsh 6, Broadfoot 6, Allardice 8 (Duku 88), McAlear 6. Subs not used: MacKay (GK), Duffy, MacGregor, McDonald.

HAMILTON (4-4-2) – Hilton 6, Popescu 6, Easton 6, Hamilton 6, MacDonald 6, Ryan 7 (Virtanen 85), Smith 7, Mullin 6, Mimnaugh 6, Moyo 6, Munro 7 (Winter 72). Subs not used: Smith (GK), Stirling, Hughes, Shiels.

Referee: Chris Graham.

Attendance: 1862.

Man of the match: Scott Allardice.

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