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Smith’s show for Hamilton against Kilmarnock curries favour with Rice

Hamilton manager Brian Rice lavished praise on youngster Lewis Smith after he inspired the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The 19 year-old was man of the match as he grabbed a goal and an assist to stake his claim as the next star to graduate from Hamilton’s renowned academy.

James McCarthy, James McArthur and Eamonn Brophy are just a few of the names to come through at Hamilton before gaining international recognition and Rice believes Smith has the ability to prosper in the game.

The manager said: “ Lewis is an exceptional young talent. We all know that and I’ve been itching to get him in the team.

“We gave him the platform to show what he can do, I see it every day and everyone saw a glimpse in this game.

“He scored a fantastic goal then had a hand in the second goal. But it was his work ethic off the ball when we were down to 10 (men) which pleased me as it’s foreign to him.

“His strength is getting him on the ball, he glides. I told him he’s in the team to go with the ball and express himself. I’ve told him not to feel in awe of anyone.

“He’s a very quiet kid but once he’s on the pitch he turns into something that gets me off the edge of my seat.”

The boyhood Accies fan grabbed his first league goal on 21 minutes, collecting Aaron McGowan’s excellent header on the edge of the box and weaving past his marker before curling a beautiful left-foot shot beyond goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu.

Hamilton were excellent throughout the first half and Smith turned provider as the hosts doubled their advantage on 49 minutes, battling past two weak challenges before crossing for George Oakley to sweep past an unconvincing Branescu.

Stuart Findlay was extremely fortunate to escape giving away a penalty for a shove on Oakley before Killie raced up the pitch and Brian Easton was shown a straight red card for fouling Eamonn Brophy.

Kilmarnock dominated possession with an extra man but failed to truly test Owain Fon Williams, leaving under pressure manager Angelo Alessio frustrated.

He said: “Of course we are disappointed and very angry because we conceded two stupid goals.

“At the same time we created a lot of chances to score but there were some great saves from their goalkeeper or a mistake from our strikers. But this is football.”