Hamilton 1-4 Hearts: Jambos start new season in style

Peter Haring celebrates after scoring Hearts' equaliser against Hamilton
Peter Haring celebrates after scoring Hearts' equaliser against Hamilton
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Hearts opened their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign with a convincing victory at Hamilton.

Two goals from Peter Haring, one from Steven MacLean and a Steven Naismith penalty secured a deserved win for the Edinburgh club.

Mickel Miller put Hamilton ahead on 17 minutes but Haring quickly headed the equaliser. Then came three strikes from Hearts in a rampant second-half display. They overwhelmed the Hamilton defence and got their goals thanks to some incisive passing moves in front of 2663 travelling fans.

It was the ideal way to start the new season for the visitors, who are targeting European qualification after finishing sixth in last season's Premiership. Accies endured some jeers from their support after the fourth goal as hopes of an encouraging start disintegrated.

Hearts named an unchanged line-up following last weekend's 5-0 rout of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Betfred Cup. That meant Kyle Lafferty remained on the substitutes' bench with in-form Uche Ikpeazu partnering MacLean in attack.

Hamilton's new and improved astroturf surface proved no problem for MacLean, as he stated publicly last month. The hosts were missing the former Tynecastle defender Lennard Sowah from their matchday squad but the experienced Darian MacKinnon and Ziggy Gordon did start.

After a strong opening to this game, Hamilton scored first on 17 minutes. MacKinnon headed a clearance back into the opposition penalty area and Miller pursued the bouncing ball with Hearts defender Aaron Hughes. Despite appeals that Miller was pulling Hughes as the Northern Irishman fell, the striker prodded a controlled finish beneath the advancing goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal.

Hearts took merely three minutes to respond. The Hamilton keeper Gary Woods pushed Christophe Berra's header over his crossbar and seconds later the equaliser arrived. Naismith clipped a precise ball into the box towards Haring, who headed it against the balance of Woods into the bottom corner of the net.

The visitors fashioned another clear opportunity just after the half-hour mark. A sweeping move saw Ikpeazu head wide to MacLean, whose early delivery found Naismith unmarked inside the Hamilton box. His first touch wasn't great but he squared to Ikpeazu, only for Shaun Want to block the Englishman's effort at goal.

Play continued swaying from one end to the other and Accies were next to rue a missed chance. Darren Lyon's pass teed up Rakish Bingham for a first-time shot which was deflected over the bar by John Souttar's diving challenge.

Woods was alive to palm Haring's volley to safety at the start of the second half. Then came Hearts' penalty. Ikpeazu's shot from an acute angle was touched out by the diving Woods, but the ball landed with Naismith. He took a touch anticipating Alex Penny's sliding challenge and was fouled by the defender. Naismith confidently dispatched the spot-kick to Woods' left to put the visitors ahead.

They pushed for a third goal and got it following a well-worked free-kick on 57 minutes. Olly Lee passed the set-piece sideways to Ben Garuccio, who delivered onto the head of Berra. His knockdown found Naismith, who laid off to Haring for a composed first-time finish from 12 yards.

Five minutes later it was 4-1. Ikpeazu held off a marker to roll a precise through ball into the path of MacLean. Woods got a hand to the striker's angled left-footed shot but could not prevent it nestling high in the net.

There were still 28 minutes to play at that point but the match was over as a contest. Hearts wanted to manage their way through to full-time without conceding any more goals. They might have scored more but Woods thwarted substitute Jake Mulraney and saved another MacLean shot before the final whistle.

Hamilton (3-5-2): Woods; Penny, Want, Gordon; Imrie (Cunningham 71), Lyon (Taiwo 62), MacKinnon, Kelly, McMann; Bingham (Bloomfield 80), Miller. Unused subs: Fulton, McGowan, Phillips, Boyd.

Hearts (4-4-2): Zlamal; Hughes, Souttar, Berra, Garuccio (Burns 71); Morrison (Mulraney 71), Haring, Lee, Naismith; Ikpeazu (Lafferty 78), MacLean. Unused subs: Doyle, Bozanic, McDonald, L Smith.

Referee: Andrew Dallas.

Attendance: 3764.