Hamilton Wanderers suffer first Premiership football loss to Waitakere United
Hamilton Wanderers may well feel aggrieved that the crucial goal in their home loss to Waitakere United on Sunday came against the run of play.
But that would temper the reality that the Stirling Sports Premiership newcomers still have a way to go before they can match it with the established big boys.
The 2-0 defeat at Porritt Stadium means the national league rookies now have a win and a loss from their first two matches of the 2016-17 campaign, and it seems clear they're still finding their feet.
The visitors dictated terms for almost all of the first half and should have gone into the sheds ahead at the break, but were denied by some excellent defending and goalkeeping and their own lack of a finishing touch.
READ MORE: Wanderers seek second win
Wanderers were immediately sharper at the start of the second spell and had their best moments before going behind in the 63rd minute, and then Waitakere were able to soak up further pressure before sealing their second win in three outings in added time.
The hosts had to make one change from the side won its home-opener 1-0 over Southern United the previous weekend, as a back injury ruled Xavier Pratt out. That saw long-time Melville United stalwart - and former Waitakere regular at this level - Aaron Scott make his Wanderers debut.
Scott and centre-back partner Tom Davis were busy from the outset and excelled, as the visitors were quicker to the ball. Waitakere should have opened the scoring after five minutes but centre-back Julyan Collet, who was equally as good defensively for the victors, hammered a header from a corner against the crossbar from just six metres out.
Wanderers' chances at goal came from set-pieces in the first 45 minutes, as they rarely strung many passes together, with playmaker Alexis Varela unable to dictate tempo as midfield partners Corey Mitchell and Jack Salter rarely got on the ball.
Goalkeeper Matt Oliver had to be sharp to deny Dylan Stansfield when put through by Dan Morgan in the 21st minute, while he stopped Stansfield again near halftime after Bailey Webster earlier had blocked a Jake Butler effort on the goal-line.
Wanderers' ball movement was much quicker after the restart and Godwin Darkwa almost set up an opening goal with a penetrating run and low cross, before Salter had his best moment with a mazy dribble that saw him brought down near the edge of the penalty box. Varela's resulting free-kick saw Pirmin Strasser parry the ball at Darkwa's feet, but he couldn't readjust to steer the ball into the net.
However, Waitakere struck when Davis had a rare lapse, allowing substitute Ryan Cain time to control and turn and set up an attack which eventually saw Morgan given space to fire home from close range under Oliver in the 63rd minute.
Another visiting second-half substitute, Dylan Manickum, also had a big say in the final result. The skilful wide midfielder proved too tricky for a tiring Johnny Konings to handle, as he drew a yellow card from the left-back before Butler clinched the Waitakere win when breaking through onto a loose ball and finishing coolly past Oliver.
Manickum still had time to torment Konigs once more and draw a second yellow card and the resultant red, as Wanderers' day finished on a down note.