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Daily Record
Daily Record
Paul Thomson

Hamilton 0 Ross County 0 (5-3 on pens): Accies stun Staggies with penalty shootout triumph in Scottish Cup

Hamilton Accies are into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup after stunning Ross County on penalties.

It was bottom of the Championship hosting the bottom of the Premiership and it always seemed like goals would be hard to come by, so it was no surprise neither side were able to find a way to goal in 120 minutes of football - in front of a mere 783 supporters who braved the cold.

But heroic Accies keeper Ryan Fulton pulled off a string of superb saves to keep County at bay and then saved from Jordan White in the shootout to help send Accies into the hat for Sunday's fifth round draw.

Striker Andy Ryan hit the winning penalty for the hosts after successful spot-kicks from Dario Zanatta, Andy Winter, Dylan McGowan and Scott Martin made it a perfect shootout.

Only Akio and Cancola found the net from 12 yards for Staggies who exit at the first hurdle.

Accies made one change from last week’s league win over Morton as the injured Dan O’Reilly dropped out and was replaced by left-back Chrissy McGinn in a youthful defensive line. The 17-year-old was joined at the back by fellow academy graduate Fergus Owens, 19, and they were supported by experienced new signing Dylan McGowan.

Michael Doyle failed to shake off the flu and missed out, as did the injured Reegan Mimnaugh.

The Staggies featured ex-Accie Ross Callachan in their starting 11 while ex-Motherwell striker Jordan White - who had been the subject of transfer interest from St Johnstone - started on the bench.

Both sides went into the game off the back of positive results. Accies ended a run of seven straight league defeats by landing a 1-0 win over Morton, while County rallied to draw 1-1 with fellow Premiership strugglers Motherwell last weekend.

And it was the vistors who had the first real opening in eight minutes. Yan Dhanda whipped in a low cross towards the near post and Ryan Fulton produced an impressive instinctive save to deny Kazeem Olaigbe from close range, turning the ball over the crossbar.

Accies responded well and when Scott Martin teed up Lewis Smith inside the box moments later, he tried to bend the ball into the far corner, but a County body got in the way as the ball sailed towards goal.

John Pierre-Tiehi was looking lively and two close-range blocks prevented him getting an effort on goal as the hosts pushed for the opening goal.

Callachan scored 10 goals in 37 appearances during his time at New Douglas Park and he almost broke the deadlock for the Staggies in the 13th minute when a powerful drive from the edge of the box whistled past Fulton's right-hand post.

Just seconds later Owura Edwards should have fired County in front when Dhanda's cut-back picked him out 10 yards from goal, but he scooped his effort over the bar, to the relief of the home support. And the Accies faithful were breathing a sigh of relief again when Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila then powered a header inches over the top from a Dhanda corner.

In 22 minutes a tremendous turn from Tiehi inside the box left his marker for dead when he got on the end of Sparrow's through ball. The Frenchman looked like he might be able to dink the ball into the net over the onrushing Laidlaw, but the County keeper stood up well to smother his effort and keep the scores level.

After a lively opening, the sides cancelled each other out for the the remainder of the first period and half-time arrived with Accies the happier of the two sides to go in level at the break.

Moments into the second half, a half-hearted penalty claim from County was waved away after Mayifiula tumbled over in the box under attention from Sparrow.

Olaigbe looked to have put Edwardsion on goal in 52 minutes with a searching long ball, but Matthew Shiels did just enough to put him off as he pulled the trigger inside the box, allowing Fulton to make a comfortable save.

It was another warning for Accies and Callachan then stung the hands of Fulton with a fierce 18-yard strike, and still neither side could find the breakthrough.

County and Callachan were again denied by Fulton on the hour mark when Callachan's header came through a sea of bodeis before the Accies keeper produced a fine save to claw his effort off the line.

The Staggies introduced Jordan White from the bench for Mayifuila in 61 minutes and he almost made an instant impact when Dhanda's delivery picked him out at the near post, but the striker powered his header over the bar and, yet again, Accies escaped.

The impressive McGinn was forced off with cramp after 66 minutes and received plenty of plaudits from boss Rankin and No.2 Darian MacKinnon when he eventually made his way to the dugout, having been replaced by Brian Easton.

Accies knew there were still capable of winning this contest and only a couple of desperate blocks when a Sparrow free-kick bounced about at the back post kept the hosts from finding the opener in 74 minutes.

With 13 minutes remaining Rankin turned to Andy Ryan to try and find a winner when he replaced Tiehi.

With regulation time running out, County almost found a winner when White's header in the box broke to William Akio, but Fulton was again on top form to do enough and keep the ball out.

Up the other end, de Bolle had a drive tipped over the bar with 83 minutes on the clock before a curling effort from Ryan was kept out by Laidlaw as the game went to extra-time.

Six minutes into the additional period another save from Fulton kept County at bay when an awkardly bouncing strike from Akio looked to be bouncing over the Accies keeper on the deck, but his big reach managed to tip the ball round the post.

Dario Zanatta then came closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock in the 102nd minute when his superb header from Sparrow's cross came back off the post with Laidlaw beaten.

In the 107th minute McGowan fired straight at Laidlaw after Sparrow's free-kick picked him out at the back post.

Fulton's heroics continued in the 114th minute when a double point-blank save kept out Keith Watson ensured the game went to penalties where he did the business once again and allowed Ryan to seal their progress.

Accies are back in league action next weekend when they travel to Partick Thistle in the Scottish Championship.

HAMILTON: Fulton, Owens, McGinn (Easton 66), McGowan, Shiels, Sparrow, Martin, de Bolle, Martin, L Smith (Zanatta 88), Tiehi (Ryan 77), Winter.


Bookings: Sparrow, Shiels

Subs not used: J Smith, One, Newbury, Forsyth, Black, Morgan.

ROSS COUNTY: Laidlaw, Harmon, Baldwin, Randall, Watson, Callachan (Cancola 75), Dhanda (Samuel 97), Olaigbe (Sims 102), Kenneh (Loturi 46), Edwards (Akio 75), Mayifuila (White 61).


Bookings: Callachan, Randall

Subs not used: Munro, Tillson, Smith.

Ref: Grant Irvine

HT: 0-0

Att: 783

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