Hamilton Accies’ slim play-off hopes evaporated as title-chasing Arbroath ran out 1-0 winners at New Douglas Park.
Though the Red Lichties still trail Kilmarnock by four points at the top of the Championship table, Jack Hamilton’s winner will give them hope.
Hamilton, meanwhile, will be left to battle it out for a mid-table slot in their remaining three games.
Ahead of the game, Accies were looking to catch Partick Thistle in fourth, who went 10 points ahead of them with last night’s 1-0 win over Queen of the South but needed to win all of their remaining games.
The first half looked promising enough, with both sides looking like they were playing with the shackles off, which made for an open, entertaining game.
But Accies will ultimately be left to rue missed opportunities, while Arbroath came out swinging in the second half.
Hamilton head coach Stuart Taylor made one change from the side that drew 1-1 at Ayr last Friday, with Josh Mullin in for captain Brian Easton. Striker Andy Ryan took the armband.
There was a boost for Accies when back-up keeper Joe Hilton, on loan from Blackburn Rovers, was able to take his place on the bench again, following injury.
Arbroath boss Dick Campbell kept faith with the same team team which drew 0-0 with Partick Thistle last time out.
Hamilton started well when the game got underway and within two minutes Arbroath were forced to clear a Mihai Popescui cross from lurking David Moyo, but the corner came to nothing.
Josh Mullin’s free kick from the left in three minutes was glanced just past the far post by Moyo.
Accies were nearly the architects of their own downfall in five minutes when Jamie Hamilton was caught dithering on the right, and Arbroath eventually got the ball to Jack Hamilton, but his low shot was comfortably taken by Ryan Fulton.
Moyo went on a run down the left in nine minutes, but his low shot to the near post corner was no real problem for Derek Gaston.
Good link-up play between Moyo and Ryan nearly set Accies up in 13 minutes, but Ryan’s first-time ball to Winter was well read and cleared for a corner, when he would have had just Gaston to beat.
Arbroath’s Dale Hilson was given a chance to go through on goal, but good defensive play put him off.
Play raged up the other end, and Moyo saw a fierce, low effort fly inches past the far post from the left.
Kieran MacDonald’s corner from the right was headed past by Winter in 26 minutes.
MacDonald’s free kick from the right was headed over by Moyo in 43 minutes as Hamilton searched for an opener.
Arbroath should have taken the lead in 52 minutes when Hilson darted down the right and cut the ball back to Jack Hamilton, but his low, angled shot was wide of the left post.
The visitors were much more involved in the game in an attacking sense and took the lead in 59 minutes when Accies failed to clear Colin Hamilton’s cross from the left and Jack Hamilton fired an unstoppable shot into the top left corner.
Hamilton huffed and puffed, but couldn’t find an inroad against Arbroath, as their season ultimately petered out.
HAMILTON: Fulton, Hamilton, Popescu, O’Reilly, MacDonald, Lawson, Spence (Brown, 83), Mullin (Martin, 71), Ryan, Winter, Moyo.
Subs (not used): Hilton (GK), L. Smith, Mimnaugh, Shiels, McGowan, Nicolson.
Booked: Ryan (29), Spence (60)
ARBROATH: Gaston, Stewart, Colin Hamilton, Little, O’Brien, Low (Criagen, 84), Chris Hamilton (Wighton, 84), McKenna, Hilson (Donnelly, 73), J. Hamilton, Henderson (Gold, 80).
Subs (not used): Antell (GK), Swankie, Linn, Ford, Bakare.
Booked: Chris Hamilton (31), O’Brien (90+3)
Referee: Scott Lambie.
Follow Lanarkshire Live Sport onTwitter via@LanLiveSport, like us onFacebookor find us onInstagramfor the latest sports news, pictures and video.