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Inverness Caledonian Thistle lose first leg of Championship play-off final

By Will Clark

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Aribim Pepple scored for Inverness. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Aribim Pepple scored for Inverness. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Championship play-off final

Hamilton Academical 2

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1

Scorers Hamilton: O’Hara (5) Owens (22) Inverness: Pepple (68)

A disastrous opening quarter of the game saw Kevin O’Hara score from around 40 metres out with Fergus Owens doubling Hamilton’s advantage midway through the first half.

Aribim Pepple came off the bench to pull one back for Invernes midway through the second half to give them hope going into the second leg.

Inverness made three changes to the team that defeated Montrose 1-0 in the play-off semi final.

Danny Devine, Charlie Gilmour and Luis Longstaff were all brought into the startiing line-up with James Carragher and Remi Savage dropped to the bench.

Sean McAllister was ruled out through injury he sustained in the semi final second left win over Montrose.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle got off to the worst possible start when goalkeeper Mark Ridgers was caught flatfooted and O’Hara fired a shot from 40 metres out that went out of his reach and into the net.

The visitors attempted to respond with an equaliser with Billy Mckay and Max Anderson both going close with shots but goalkeeper Dean Lyness saved well.

Hamilton then doubled their advantage midway through the first half when a corner kick found the head of Dylan McGowan which crashed off the crossbar. But Inverness were unable to deal with the ball and Fergus Owens was the first to the rebound to nod home.

Inverness had plenty of possession but were unable to trouble Lyness in the Hamilton goal as they went into the break two goals behind.

Inverness could have found themselves 3-0 down early in the second half when a scramble in the box saw a header which had to be cleared off the line by Mckay.

But the visitors reduced the deficit to one midway through the second half when a terrific run into the box from Cameron Harper saw his set up Pepple from eight yards out to fire home.

Inverness pressed for an equaliser when Mckay managed to get on to the end of a cross in the box but his shot was well saved by Lyness.

Hamilton: Lyness, Longridge, Barjonas (Redfern 45), Henderson (Winter 70), Martin (Rose 75), O’Hara, Smith, McGowan, Tumilty (Hewitt 75), Owens, Williamson.

Substitutions (Unused): Smoith, Kilday, Hastie, Murray, Hendrie.

Inverness: Ridgers, Duffy (Carragher 45), Harper, Kerr, Devine, Gilmour (Lawal 45), Mckay, Anderson, Longstaff, Boyes, Samuel (Pepple 70)

Substitutions (Unused): Mackay, Samuels, Macgregor, Brooks, Savage, Ujdur.

Referee: Graham Grainger

Attendance 1389.

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