United defeat Hamilton
Dundee United finally returned to winning ways in the Scottish Premiership thanks to Chris Erskine’s decisive 70th-minute strike which ended Hamilton’s top-six hopes at Tannadice.
Jackie McNamara’s team had gone 10 league games without victory going into this match but they ended that sequence as Erskine’s well-taken goal gave them a 1-0 win.
It leaves Hamilton now winless in 13 games since Alex Neil left back in early January to be replaced by player-boss Martin Canning as their season plummets.
Hamilton made the brighter start as Louis Longridge unleashed a long-range shot which home keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak held.
Soon afterwards, Longridge sent over a decent corner which was met by Michael Devlin and his header flashed past the post.
At the other end, Hamilton’s Darian MacKinnon became the first player to be booked in the 11th minute for a late challenge on Paul Paton. From the resultant free-kick, though, Charlier Telfer fired his effort well over Michael McGovern’s crossbar from 22 yards.
In 23 minutes, Alister Crawford joined MacKinnon in being booked for a lunge on Paton.
United were gradually beginning to find their feet and next up Blair Spittal went on a mazy run, only to be stopped in his tracks by Hamilton defender Ziggy Gordon’s strong challenge.
However, Accies were attacking at every opportunity and, as the half-hour mark approached, Devlin’s header was helped on by Nigel Hasselbank but Paton was well-placed to clear off the line.
On 40 minutes, Nadir Ciftci turned swiftly inside the box before firing in a shot which McGovern gathered at the second attempt.
In their last attack of the first half, Crawford set up Dougie Imrie 12 yards from goal but from a tight angle he dragged his shot wide.
Hamilton almost took the lead in the 51st minute when Longridge fed Stephen Hendrie whose close-range shot hit Cierzniak’s far post before running to safety.
Just after the hour mark, Hamilton were claiming for a penalty.
Imrie released Scotland who, in turn, cut the ball back for MacKinnon whose shot was blocked by Ryan McGowan, but referee Andrew Dallas was right up with play and insisted it did not come off the defender’s hand.
Almost immediately after that, Longridge popped up at the far post and his effort came back off the post and right into Cierzniak’s hands.
Then, on 65 minutes, Cierzniak defied Jason Scotland with a diving save to prevent his powerful shot from 12 yards giving the visitors the lead.
Cierzniak came to the rescue again for United two minutes later when he produced a fingertip save from Crawford’s 25-yard free-kick, pushing it onto the post before it was cleared to safety.
But United went ahead against the run of play in the 70th minute.
Substitute Mario Bilate found Telfer and he passed to Erskine who did the rest as he swept a low left-foot shot into McGovern’s far corner from 22 yards.
That brought huge relief for the visitors, who should have gone 2-0 ahead in the final minute but Bilate knocked Ciftci’s cross wide from point-blank range.