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Preview: Hamilton Academical vs. Dundee United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Scottish Premiership clash between Hamilton Academical and Dundee United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

SPL strugglers Hamilton Academical welcome sixth-placed Dundee United to New Douglas Park on Saturday, having slipped to just a point off the foot of the table.

The Tangerines will arrive buoyed by a rare moment of magic, after Lawrence Shankland's midweek wondergoal earned his side a point against St Johnstone last time out.


Match preview

Lawrence Shankland during Scotland training on October 7, 2019© Reuters

On Tuesday, Scotland striker Shankland sent absent Dundee United fans - and social media - into a long-distance frenzy, as he instinctively launched the ball over Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark from just inside the opposition half to secure a 2-2 draw at Tannadice.

That stunning strike was only Shankland's second in his past 16 matches and was lauded by his manager Micky Mellon, who spoke afterwards of his sheer pleasure at having witnessed it, but also of his disappointment with the defending for both St Johnstone goals.

For a team that scores at a rate of less than a goal per game - one of the weakest attacking records in the top flight - defensive resilience is a must.

Having been postponed due to a frozen pitch on Saturday and then hastily rescheduled it was an entertaining encounter, but United could not find a first win in four league fixtures and their current sticky spell now comprises three draws and a 3-0 defeat at Celtic. The Terrors' last league victory was against Kilmarnock on December 23, when they won 2-0 at Tannadice.

After club legend Jim McLean passed away on Boxing Day, Tuesday was the Tangerines' first chance to honour their beloved former manager at the ground his sides so often illuminated.

Both teams gathered for a minute of applause before kickoff and there was another ovation from club staff in the 83rd minute to mark the club's historic 1983 league win.

Hamilton Academical manager Brian Rice pictured in August 2020© Reuters

Hamilton boss Brian Rice has spoken of his determination to prove a point against Dundee United this weekend, as they host Mellon's men on Saturday aiming to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat at Kilmarnock that sees them still perilously close to the bottom of the Premiership.

Having narrowly lost their last meeting 2-1 at Tannadice back in November - when Ross Callachan missed a penalty - and drawn 1-1 in their first meeting at New Douglas Park at the start of the season, the Accies are doubly determined to claim maximum points this time.

At the weekend, a goal in each half from Greg Kiltie secured all three points for Kilmarnock as Hamilton fell to a third defeat from five in Ayrshire.

Rice's injury-plagued side were outplayed by resurgent Killie on Saturday, with only a third of possession and no shots recorded on target, and the former Falkirk assistant manager bemoaned being without his first-choice centre-halves, who had previously helped keep two successive clean sheets.

With Brian Easton and Aaron Martin both joining the lengthening list of absences at the club, it will be a severe test of Accies' resilience to take on the Tangerines this week and Rice is keen to secure reinforcements before kickoff.

Recently released by Serie B side Reggina, Kyle Lafferty - formerly of Rangers and Hearts - has been mentioned as a potential new recruit at New Douglas Park and would provide a sorely needed focal point. However, changes at the back may also be required for a side with the worst defensive record in the league.

Hamilton Academical Scottish Premiership form: WLLDWL

Dundee United Scottish Premiership form: DWDLDD


Team News

Dundee United boss Micky Mellon pictured on August 22, 2020© Reuters

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon was without midfield pair Calum Butcher and Jeando Fuchs for the midweek clash with St Johnstone, but former Tottenham man Butcher is expected to return from a hamstring injury on Saturday and Fuchs is having the extent of his knee problem assessed.

Striker Marc McNulty and Ryan Edwards also returned from injury this week, while long-term absentee Logan Chalmers is back in basic training after his ankle layoff but is not ready to be involved.

Hamilton's absence list continues to grow, as boss Brian Rice revealed that former Rangers winger David Templeton is unlikely to play again this season, joining Lewis Smith and defender Will Collar on the long-term injury list.

Accies defender Aaron Martin was withdrawn from the squad after being required to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure before last week's game and captain Brian Easton was ruled out through injury. George Stanger may therefore be required to continue in defence, with midfielder Charlie Trafford keeping his place in the centre of the park.

Striker Marios Ogkmpoe is also sidelined along with winger Nathan Thomas, so Rice's activity in the transfer market will only intensify ahead of the game.

Hamilton Academical possible starting lineup:
Gourlay; Hodson, Hamilton, Stirling, Stanger, McMann; Odoffin, Trafford, Callachan; Winter, Moyo

Dundee United possible starting lineup:
Siegrist; Neilson, Connolly, Reynolds; Smith, Clark, Harkes, Powers, Robson; Shankland, Appere


SM words green background

We say: Hamilton Academical 0-1 Dundee United

Micky Mellon's team should end their current winless streak with success against the league's leakiest defence on Saturday.

Not only have Hamilton struggled to keep the ball out of the net, but their squad has been bedevilled with injuries in key areas of late, so a reinvigorated Lawrence Shankland could prove the difference for the Tangerines.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a draw or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Draw/Away:data


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Eamonn Brophy in axtion for Kilmarnock in August 2020
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