Football

Hamilton relegated after defeat

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Hamilton saw their hopes of an unlikely escape from relegation disappear after they lost 1-0 to St Johnstone with Liam Craig's penalty ending their three-year stay in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Hamilton had threatened to continue their recent revival with a bright start but all hope was extinguished when Mark McLaughlin was sent off for bringing down Andy Jackson. Craig slotted home the resulting penalty in the 29th minute and Hamilton's spirit could not make up for their numerical disadvantage.

Tomas Cerny later saved Craig's second penalty - the 15th Accies have conceded this season - but their relegation was confirmed by St Mirren's 1-0 win at Aberdeen. Hamilton had taken 10 points from their previous four games to cut their deficit on St Mirren from 12 points to three and they threatened to continue their recent revival in the opening stages.

Nigel Hasselbaink slotted home within a minute of kick-off but was flagged offside after Simon Mensing delayed his pass with Hamilton outnumbering the home defence. The visitors soon had another great chance when Dougie Imrie crossed for Jon Routledge, but Peter Enckelman dived to save the on-loan Wigan player's header from 10 yards.

Craig was soon foiled by an excellent covering tackle from David Buchanan following Jackson's cutback, and Peter MacDonald blazed the loose ball over the bar. St Johnstone continued to push and Cerny saved from team-mate Gary McDonald and Jamie Adams as the hosts threatened from two corners.

Hamilton's SPL status suffered a fatal blow when McLaughlin was beaten for pace by Jackson after MacDonald had headed on a long ball. The centre-back slid in to bring Jackson down with referee Steve Conroy awarding a penalty and showing a red card, the seventh of Hamilton's SPL campaign.

McLaughlin pointed at the referee's assistant as he complained about the outcome, apparently claiming the offence occurred just outside the box. But McLaughlin was trudging down the tunnel when Craig sent Cerny the wrong way from the spot.

Accies looked down and out when Mensing brought down MacDonald after the forward had skipped round him in the left channel, but Cerny dived to his right to palm away Craig's 58th-minute spot-kick.

Chris Millar squandered two good shooting chances to put the game beyond Hamilton but there was no way back. Billy Reid, his suit soaked by a heavy downpour, showed his frustration by kicking out at an object in front of his dugout after Imrie had been penalised for a foul.

Hamilton kept going forward but, when they did work themselves into a decent position, Ali Crawford shot across the face of goal and substitute James Chambers sent a weak 30-yard free-kick wide.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Gary McDonald
Football
Peter Enckelman
Premier League
James Chambers
David Buchanan
Wigan Athletic
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