Brian Rice delighted to see his young squad step up for win over Hearts

Hamilton manager Brian Rice felt his young squad played like men as they beat Hearts 2-1 to win for the first time since September and move off the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership table.

Goals from Mickel Miller and Will Collar put the home side into a two-goal lead before Olly Bozanic got one back for Hearts.

But Accies held on to record a precious win that their manager felt had been well merited.

He said: “I don’t normally say this when we win games but we thoroughly deserved it. Our second-half performance was outstanding and the two goals were terrific.

“I’m absolutely delighted for the lads after everything they have been through over the past few weeks.

“They kept at it and were able to grind out a great result. We played like men and, while sometimes our quality isn’t the best, the determination and desire was there. In the second half I think everybody contributed to a deserved win.”

Hearts replaced them at the foot of the division and manager Daniel Stendel admitted avoiding relegation would need to be their priority for the rest of the season.

“Today was a very bad day for me, for the club and for the supporters,” said the German. “We played last week against St Johnstone and today against Hamilton. Both were the worst teams in the league at that time and we lost them both.

“I think the biggest thing for us now is just to avoid relegation. We have to be realistic. Maybe some players will surprise me in the future or we have to change things.

“I take responsibility for the last two weeks and the last three results. But it’s difficult to accept some performances. I think the problem is not just from the last two weeks but from a long time before.

“You can see our problem is we’re not scoring goals. We created some good chances today but didn’t take them. We needed to get that (first) goal so we could get more confidence and get a lift.

“We had to show our quality. In some positions the quality is not enough at the moment. It’s hard. I decided to take on this challenge and I will do my best.”