Hamilton Academicals lost at home to Dundee United 3-2 lastnight at a wintery-looking New Douglas Park in an exciting and unpredictable match,a result that allowed United to leapfrog both them and Inverness into thirdplace in the Scottish Premiership table, as they chase a potential Europeanspot at the end of the season. On a blustery night, Hamilton were looked afterby interim player-coach Martin Canning in their first game after theirerstwhile boss, Alex Neil, moved south last week to pick up the reins atEnglish Championship promotion seekers, Norwich City, following on from theresignation of Neil Adams.

Yet, you can take the man out of Scotland, but you can’ttake Scotland out of the man, as Neil was seen to be keenly observing the actionnorth of the border from his new base in East Anglia. From the segregated topbar of the city centre public house, The Murderers, he and a friend watched onas his former employees attempted to rescue a match that looked to be gettingaway from them far too easily at 2-0 behind early in the second-half.

United had gone in front on 38 minutes through StuartArmstrong’s marvellous strike and sprinted out of the blocks in the second periodto extend their lead less than a minute in, when Armstrong slotted in GaryMackay-Steven to break the offside trap and neatly slot the ball past Michael McGovern in the Hamilton goal. Thehome side found some resolve to reduce the deficit on 57 minutes from afree-kick thanks to their Spanish centre-back, when Jesus Garcia Tena dipped asweetly timed left-footed shot over the wall and into the net.

Their comebackseemed complete as they drew level at 2-2 when Ali Crawford scored with twentyminutes still to play. Sadly for both their fans and you suspect Neil, theycould not go on to clinch all three points though as United rallied once moreand it was they who broke the Accies’ hearts to score the winner seven minuteslater. Sean Dillon was left unmarked at a corner and didn’t waste theopportunity to head the ball home and edge a 3-2 thriller the Dundee side’s way.It was a rather tame ending to an unbeaten home streak that had lasted tengames prior to United’s arrival.

Dundee United’s reward was to move into third place inthe league, replacing Inverness Caledonian Thistle who had beaten Kilmarnockaway over the weekend. Hamilton dropped to fifth as they are in danger oflosing touch with the teams above them.

As for Neil, his newstart at the Canaries seems to have begun well after a confidence boostingvictory away at leaders Bournemouth at the weekend. He seemed to be in goodspirits last night, signing an autograph for the son of the pub’s landlord as afew locals wished him and his team well for the rest of the season. For his oldclub one wonders if his departure will cause a prolonged dip in form or whetherthey can regroup and continue an assault on the leading places in the league. 
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