THE green, green grass of home will have a different feel for Hamilton Accies this afternoon.

Alex Neil's side face Dumbarton in their first SPFL Championship match of the season at New Douglas Park and will look to christen their new pitch with three points.

The Lanarkshire club have spent almost £400,000 to renovate their home this summer, ripping up their grass pitch and laying a Fifa-accredited Tigerturf synthetic surface.

It is just five years since Accies were forced to switch from plastic back to grass following their promotion to the Scottish Premier League.

And, while some are set against the idea of playing on anything other than grass, boss Neil admits the benefits for the club are too hard to ignore as his side gear up for their maiden match on their new ground.

"It will be a bit of a new experience for everyone," he said. "Dumbarton obviously won't have seen it and we have only trained on it a couple of times. It will take a bit of getting used to.

"It is looking good, though. At the end of the day, we are a small club and to get things running through our youth academy the way we want to do it, you need to have the right facilities in place.

"We want to produce our own players and hopefully this helps. It will keep costs down and we can have all the players at the one base - the stadium - and everyone can mingle and be together.

"If we are further afield, the younger lads don't get to see the first-team players and interact with them. It is good for the club.

"For senior players, it is a bit harder on the joints than grass. But for the future of the club, it's the right way to go."

Accies head into the New Douglas Park encounter in high spirits following their opening-day victory over Raith Rovers last weekend as James Keatings gave them all three points at Stark's Park.

The Lanarkshire side ended the First Division season in fine form after Neil replaced Billy Reid in the dugout and the new boss is determined to keep up the momentum when they take on Ian Murray's side today.

Neil said: "It was a good win and a good performance from us last Saturday. Going away from home on the opening day and winning is pleasing.

"It is good to get the season off to a good start and we want to continue that this weekend. It is our first home game of the season and you want to start off on a high in front of your own fans and win the game."

Keatings may have emerged as the Hamilton hero against Raith last week as he continued his fine form since moving to the club this summer, but Neil played his own part in the triumph.The 32-year-old is still registered as a player and handed himself a starting berth in Fife as he marshaled his troops from the middle of the park rather than from the touchline.

And the Accies gaffer is determined to take to the field as often as possible as the Championship campaign unfolds after an injury-disrupted season last time out.

He said: "I am looking to keep myself fit and play as many games as I can. Providing I am not injured and I am playing well enough, I want to be out there.

"I played last week and I was happy with my performance. As a group, we played really well and I am hoping we can take that into the Dumbarton game.

"Sometimes it is hard to get the balance between playing and managing all at one time.

"I have got great help from Frankie McAvoy, and he is a real asset on a day-to-day basis.

"We have a routine now and a procedure in place and everything runs well. Things are always easier when you are winning.

"When you don't pick up points, it is more difficult."