Hamilton Accies kicked-off the new year with a defeat to Raith Rovers that leaves them rooted to the foot of the Championship table - and a sizeable six points adrift of nearest rivals Arbroath.
John Rankin's men started 2023 just as they finished 2022 - with a loss - and it is now six defeats on the spin for their under-pressure boss.
Jamie Gullan's ninth-minute strike was the difference as Raith - who saw Aidan Connolly's late penalty saved by Ryan Fulton - landed their first win in five Championship games.
But the Lichties' shock 4-2 win at 10-man Dundee only compouded Hamilton's woes, leaving them six behind with a game in hand.
The New Douglas Park side, who had become used to playing Premiership football just a few years ago, are in serious danger of a second relegation in three seasons, as the demands of the Championship on a young squad and an inexperienced manager seem to be taking its toll.
Rankin has spoken about stengthening but reinforcements will be required fast to stop the slide that has seen Accies take just one point from a possible 24 in their last eight games.
Accies made just one change from the defeat to Cove Rangers on December 23, as Dario Zanatta came in and Andy Winter dropped to the bench.
Kick-off was held up slightly by an issue with the net at the North Stand and, unfortunately for Accies, the one up the other end was bulging after just nine minutes when Raith took the lead.
Ross Millen collected possession out wide and when his pin-point cross from the right found Gullan in the box, the striker held off his marker to fire a low volley past Ryan Fulton into the bottom corner.
It was just the start Accies didn't want and things got worse for the hosts in the 29th minute when talisman Andy Ryan was unable to shake off an early knock and had to be replaced by 16-year-old Ryan One up top.
Accies were pushing to get back in the game and in the 36th minute Scott Martin's thumping 30-yard strike was tipped over the bar by Jamie McDonald to keep Rovers in front.
Lewis Smith then tried his luck from distance but he failed to trouble MacDonald as Accies headed into the dressing room at the half-time interval trailing.
Just 30 seconds after the re-start Gullan forced Fulton into a good stop, with the keeper palming away his striker as it headed for the bottom corner. A last-ditch tackle by Dan O'Reilly a few minutes later also thwarted Gullan 10-yards out as Raith looked to kill the game.
The visitors were then screaming for a penalty when Lewis Vaughan appeared to be pulled by O'Reilly as he fired at goal, but referee Lloyd Wilson waved away their claims, infuriating Rovers boss Ian Murray on the touchline.
Chris McGinn and Andy Winter were introduced for Lewis Smith and Dario Zanatta after 64 minutes to try and spark an Accies revival.
Within six minutes of their introduction, a well-worked move created space for Winter just inside the Raith box, but he sliced his strike wide of the target to further frustrate the home support.
Ryan One almost produced a moment of magic to haul Accies level in 74 minutes. The youngster got on the end of Lucas de Bolle's cross to the near post and his cheeky back heel on the volley was heading for the bottom corner until MacDonald got down superbly to palm it away from danger.
Seven minutes from time, Raith had the chance to seal the points from the penalty spot after Michael Doyle was deemed to have tripped Dylan Easton in the box. However, Fulton made a fabulous save, guessing the right way to palm Aidan Connolly's spot-kick clear.
In the 88th minute the goal opened up for Winter to level but his strike flew agonisingly wide with MacDonald at full stretch, and Raith held out.
Accies, with just two wins in 19 games, now travel to Somerset Park on Saturday to face high-flying Ayr United.
HAMILTON: Fulton, Shiels, Owens, O'Reilly, Doyle, Martin, De Bolle, L Smith (McGinn 64), Mimnaugh, Ryan (One 29), Zanatta (Winter 64).
Subs not used: J Smith, Easton, Newbury, Latona, Brown, Morgan.
RAITH: MacDonald, Dick, Ngwenya (Nolan 32), Millen, Lang, Spencer, Connolly, Easton, Brown, Vaughan (McBride 75), Gullan (Connell 80).
Bookings: Brown, Millen
Subs not used: McNeil, Young, Masson, Frederiksen.
Ref: Lloyd Wilson
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