FORMER Caley Thistle midfielder Dougie Imrie bagged the only goal of the game as Hamilton defeated visitors Ross County 1-0 in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday.
It was a frustrating afternoon in Lanarkshire for the Staggies, who had climbed up to third in the table following wins against Caley Thistle and Kilmarnock.
It was also a day to forget for striker Liam Boyce, who was watched by his Northern Ireland international manager Michael O'Neill ahead of Sunday's World Cup qualifier in the Czech Republic, although his five goals in the previous two games may still keep him in with a chance.
County had won their last four meetings against Accies, who were aiming to win their first league game of the season.
Tim Chow, a 22-year-old midfielder signed from Wigan Athletic on Thursday, began the day on the bench, although he got a taste of the action in the second half when he replaced Christopher Routis.
Boss Jim McIntyre, who said afterwards that he might add one or two more players to his squad, named the same starting 11 who beat Killie the week before.
Hamilton fans were on edge early on as Greek defender Georgios Sarris sliced a clearance over his own crossbar to hand County a corner.
From the flag kick sent in by Martin Woods, Andrew Davies crashed a powerful header off the crossbar, with goalkeeper Remi Matthews beaten.
Massimo Donati then gave the ball away cheaply to Jonathan Franks and his cross for Boyce was cut out superbly by Sarris.
Accies soon settled, however, and tested Staggies number one Scott Fox after 14 minutes when young midfielder Greg Docherty saw his shot saved after being picked out by Gramoz Kurtaj.
Fox was twice more in swift succession called into action as he saved a header from Alex D'Acol then a swerving right-foot shot from Donati.
Early in the second half, Accies sought the opener and it took a fine challenge from Jay McEveley to stop Imrie in his tracks from 16 yards.
Imrie was the victim of jeers and laughter from the crowd when, from a free-kick conceded by Michael Gardyne, he sent his free-kick high and wide and into the practice goals well behind the ones that mattered.
Imrie brushed that off though and linked up well with Darren Lyon on 56 minutes before setting up Kurtaj for an effort which was just off target.
Chow replaced Routis, Tony Dingwall came on for Franks and Alex Schalk stepped off the bench in place of Craig Curran and McIntyre looked for fresh verve and creativity.
It almost worked a treat when Schalk sent a superb cross into the box and Gardyne was denied by a fantastic Matthews save.
With County looking for the goal to clinch it, with 16 minutes left, it was Accies who cashed in to steal it.
Docherty picked up a slack pass from McEveley and quickly pushed the ball on for Imrie.
The experienced midfielder broke clear and made no mistake to earn Hamilton their first league victory of the season.
County return to action after the international break on Saturday, September 10, at home to Motherwell in the league.
Hamilton: Matthews, Lyon, Devlin, Sarris, Gillespie, Donati, Imrie, MacKinnon, Docherty (Seabourne 89), Kurtaj (Redmond 59), D'Acol (Brophy 69). Subs not used: Roy, Bingham, McMann, Woods.
Ross County: Fox, Cikos, Quinn, Davies, McEveley, Franks (Dingwall 68), Routis (Chow 59), Woods, Gardyne, Boyce, Curran (Schalk 54). Subs not used: McCarey, Morrison, van der Weg, McShane.
Referee: Greg Aitken.