Hamilton 1-2 Hearts: Ross Callachan scores first goal in Craig Levein's maiden win

Ross Callachan's ecstatic celebration after scoring Hearts' first goal against Hamilton
Ross Callachan's ecstatic celebration after scoring Hearts' first goal against Hamilton
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Craig Levein enjoyed his first win back in charge of Hearts as goals from Ross Callachan and Kyle Lafferty secured a narrow 2-1 victory at Hamilton.


The Edinburgh club went 2-0 ahead before Rakish Bingham reduced the deficit, all in the first half. They survived a second-half onslaught by the home side to take all three points in the second match since Levein returned to the dugout.

Childhood Hearts fan Callachan enjoyed his first goal for the club before Lafferty's penalty appeared to have put Levein's side in total control. They conceded a sloppy goal moments later, which seemed to destroy their rhythm.

A combative second half ensued with Hamilton giving as good as they got. However, they lacked the required quality to fashion clear scoring chances.

Mindful that Hearts hadn't won in Hamilton for six years, Levein named a strong team for his second game in charge. Michael Smith was reinstated after illness and Ashley Smith-Brown made his first Ladbrokes Premiership appearance after constant injuries since he arrived on loan from Manchester City.

Hamilton started the former Tynecastle winger David Templeton hoping he would be keen to cause damage against his old club. Instantly, Templeton and his colleagues were facing a deficit as Hearts scored from their first attack on three minutes.

Jamie Walker's pass found Smith on the right and his low cross was side-footed home by Callachan via a slight deflection. The midfielder, a recent deadline-day signing from Raith Rovers, then conducted a particularly jubilant celebration in front of the travelling fans.

Bingham wasted a glorious chance to equalise on 18 minutes. Sent through on goal by Ali Crawford's intelligent threaded pass, the striker miscontrolled and the ball ricocheted out for a corner. Hearts were rightly relieved after their defence was carved open, and they punished Bingham's profligacy moment later.

Referee Bobby Madden awarded a penalty for Ioannis Skondras's challenge on Esmael Goncalves near the edge of the box. Lafferty stepped up confidently and slammed the spot-kick low to the right of the Accies goalkeeper Gary Woods.

The visitors were now 2-0 ahead and in a commanding position, but Hamilton sowed some seeds of doubt by reducing the deficit on 33 minutes. It was no surprise to see Templeton as chief architect.

The Hearts centre-back Rafal Grzelak hesitated at a high ball on the edge of his own penalty area and Templeton sprinted in to chest it down. He continued into the box to deliver a low cross which the unmarked Bingham converted easily at the back post.

Templeton had another attempt moments later from a corner which caused momentary consternation in front of the Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin. Bingham then glanced a header wide from Crawford's free-kick before John Souttar's tackle deflected a Crawford shot wide of target.

Levein would have been content seeing Templeton substituted early in the second half given he had influenced much of Hamilton's threat. McLaughlin pulled off a stunning one-handed save to prevent Crawford's 59th-minute free-kick nestling in the top corner of his net.

The match was simmering close to the boil at that point due to several late challenges. Hamilton's Darian MacKinnon became involved in off-the-ball skirmishes with Walker and Christophe Berra and referee Madden had to work hard to maintain control. The hosts continued pressing and were enjoying their best spell of the match.

Indeed, Hearts spent most of the second half on the back foot. They battled hard and showed commendable spirit to protect their goal and, in the end, got their reward when the final whistle sounded.

Hamilton (3-4-1-2): Woods; Sarris, Tomas, McMann; Skondras, MacKinnon, Docherty, Imrie; Crawford; Bingham, Templeton.
Subs
53: Boyd for Templeton
75: Redmond for Imrie
84: Longridge for Bingham
Unused subs: Jamieson, Gogic, Biabi, Donati.

Hearts (3-4-1-2): McLaughlin; Souttar, Berra, Grzelak; M Smith, Callachan, Djoum, Smith-Brown; Walker; Lafferty, Goncalves.
Subs
46: Buaben for Djoum
71: Cowie for Goncalves
90: Milinkovic for Walker
Unused subs: Hamilton, Milinkovic, Stockton, Currie, Baur.

Referee: Bobby Madden.
Attendance: 3551.