WHEN Brian Rice took the managerial reins at Hamilton in January, one of his first moves was to entice George Oakley to leave Inverness Caledonian Thistle and try and help his new employers stave-off the threat of relegation.

The pair had been at the Highland club, Rice as assistant to John Robertson and Londoner Oakley seeking to progress his career, and Rice was convinced the striker had the talent to lift the New Douglas Park outfit up the league table.

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Wednesday night’s astonishing 2-0 win at Aberdeen suggests he could be right. There was Oakley’s much-talked about first-half strike as he volleyed the ball from the bye-line, and 15 yards from the Dons’ goal, into Joe Lewis’s net, a Marco Van Basten-esque effort that left the home fans open-mouthed.

“I was always told if you don’t shoot then you don’t score,” the 23-year-old front man said. “I can’t remember scoring a better one but it was a great feeling to get the goal.

“I came down from Inverness to show what I can do and that is what I am doing. I have scored three goals [in five appearances] and I just want to show I can play at this level. That was my aim of all along since I came to Scotland to try and play at the top level.”

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Accies sustained prolonged attacks as a ragged-looking Reds sought to end a poor run of form at home – now no wins in five league games – and while Mickel Miller’s strike on the hour underscored an eye-catching display from the visitors, nothing was certain.

“We stopped them from playing,” Oakley insisted. “We worked our socks off and when we came in we were all knackered but delighted because we had won 2-0.

“We weren’t knackered and had lost and that is a big difference.”

A derby game at Motherwell on March 9 is where the focus will be for Rice’s men as they look for consistency in their bid to leave Dundee and St Mirren as the league’s bottom clubs.

The Hamilton manager has already rammed home the message that there was to be no hangover following their 5-0 thumping from Rangers at the weekend an edict his players heard loud and clear before their Pittodrie victory which took them three points clear of second bottom Dundee and seven ahead of St Mirren.

“It has been nailed into us by the gaffer that we show no fear,” Oakley said. “What is the point? You can’t change what is in the past so why dwell on it.

“You just need to go into the next game with your head up and that is what we did at Aberdeen.

“Ever since I was a kid I have always been a hard worker and that is the way I am. Even if I am not playing well you will still get 100 per cent.

“The gaffer saw that in my first year with him at Inverness and he knows he will get that every week and that is why I am here.”

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The cloud of poor home form continues to sit above the Dons, their five league games at Pittodrie since beating Hearts in December, failing to produce a win, statistics that do not fill their supporters with optimism as they look ahead to the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final of Rangers on Sunday.

Striker Sam Cosgrove, though, refuses to consider that indifferent home form a weight on the collective shoulders of Aberdeen.

“It’s a massive game on Sunday,” he said. “I’m sure there won’t be any problem getting us up for that. It doesn’t need any more motivating.

“Our home form is not a burden. The boys are aware of it. It’s something that we can’t put our fingers on.

“We don’t know what’s going on. We come to the home games in the same mindset as away games. Whether it’s just pure coincidence or whatever, we don’t know, but we’ve got to win at home. We’ve definitely got to sort our home form out.

“Rangers are a good side and it's always a great game but we've shown we are up to the task against them this season.

"It is always a competitive and feisty game. We've shown we have the quality to score against them but we have to be wary of their threat. They've come up here and scored four last time and they’re scoring a lot of goals. We’ll have to be ready for them.

"This game is the first thing we need after a bad result. We want to go and make it right and if we get a win against Rangers, which we are more than capable of doing, the season will be turned right on its head again.”