Edinburgh City notched the first goals of their Betfred Cup campaign, but could not prevent Hamilton roaring back to a 4-2 victory in last night’s Group G clash at Meadowbank.
Ross Allum’s brace had City two up but Ali Crawford and Alex D’Acol restored parity before half-time. Jordan McGregor and a Dougie Imrie penalty gave Accies their own two-goal cushion in the second half.
League Two side City probably shaded an uneventful opening quarter of an hour, and almost took the lead in spectacular fashion. Joe Mbu’s clever ball inside Jordan McGregor put Allum in, and Remi Matthews was at full stretch to tip his dipping volley over the bar.
City did take the lead following the resulting corner. After an initial header was cleared off the line, the ball broke to Allum who rifled a volley into the far corner past Matthews.
The same player made it 2-0 just a minute later, slamming the ball home at the back post after Accies had failed to clear a delivery that found its way across the six-yard box.
A third goal arrived within a frantic seven minutes when Crawford halved the deficit, sending in a stunning free-kick from distance that left City keeper Andrew Stobie helpless.
It was all square again two minutes later. D’Acol reacted quickly to a miss-hit clearance from a high ball to steer low past Stobie in to the far corner.
The hosts were still looking dangerous going forward, and Allum combined with striker partner Nico Gibson who held the ball well but his effort lacked anything like the power required to trouble Matthews. Mark McConnell was next to try with an angled volley, but again Matthews was able to deal with it comfortably.
Crawford sought to outfox Stobie once more with another free-kick from an almost identical position as his goal, but the City keeper read the reversed attempt well and gathered.
McConnell went close again, but at the wrong end this time when he inadvertently headed against his own crossbar on the stroke of half-time.
The Premiership outfit dominated possession after the re-start, but failed to create anything clearcut against an organised City defence. Ian McFarland’s ambitious attempt to catch Matthews off his line was the only direct effort either side mustered before the hour.
Martin Canning’s side completed the turnaround with 25 minutes remaining. Crawford’s dinked free-kick found Louis Longridge, who smashed the ball across goal for McGregor to finish.
Accies then extended their lead from the spot after Grant Gillespie was brought down when driving in to the area, and Imrie smashed the spot kick high into the net. Allum had a half chance of a hat-trick but dragged his placed effort wide of the far post.
City manager gary Jardine said: “I think that’s been the best we’ve played.
“There’s lots of things we’ve picked up on after asking the players to learn all the time. The first 45 showed we have learnt a lot but also there’s lots we still need to learn.
“It’s he learning curve but we’re not going to come up against teams of Hamilton’s ilk going forward. They might look upon it as them being poor but I felt we denied space, got our shape spot on and that’s how we want to play.”
And he hinted at a new role for Craig Beattie, the former Hearts and Celtic striker.
He said: “Craig’s played at a great level and understands the game really well, but who say’s he’s a striker? I’m not going to say where he’s going to play.
“I saw him playing in a game for trialists two years and I felt he did really well in that when not playing centre forward. We’ve had a chat about things and we know what he could bring to the table up front. The experience he has, the players can learn from him but first and foremost we’ve brought him in because of his ability and what he can do on the pitch for us.”
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Caddow, Gibson (Guthrie 63), Martyniuk, Mbu, McKee (Harrison 82), McFarland, Muhsin, Allum, McConnell (Cummings 71), Donaldson.
Hamilton: Matthews, Kurakins, Gillespie, Imre, Docherty, D’Acol (MacKinnon 45), Crawford, Longridge (Boyd 74), Donati (Cunningham 86), McGregor, Hughes.