Marc McNulty’s third goal of the season was enough for Dundee United to see off Hamilton and leapfrog St Mirren into seventh.
The 28-year-old finished with aplomb just six minutes into the contest at New Douglas Park, capitalising on a goalkeeping error from Accies’ Kyle Gourlay.
With the Buddies losing 1-0 at Motherwell, the Terrors rose to seventh in the Premiership standings as they kicked off their post-split campaign with a win.
United showed two changes from last Saturday’s 2-1 Scottish Cup third-round win over Partick Thistle with Benjamin Siegrist and Liam Smith replacing Deniz and Luke Bolton.
As expected, relegation candidates Accies came out the traps flying with Scott McMann the outlet on the left flank.
McMann caused chaos in the Tangerines defence after just thirty seconds as a mix-up between skipper Mark Reynolds and stopper Siegrist nearly presented Accies with an opportunity.
The Hamilton left-back then stung the palms of Siegrist with a rasping drive at the near post but the Swiss did well to beat away.
McNulty capitalises on Gourlay goalkeeping gaffe
Headed straight up the other end, with their first opening of the game, United seized the initiative.
A poor kick-out from Accies’ stand-in stopper Gourlay landed at the feet of Jeando Fuchs.
The Cameroonian fed McNulty and the striker coolly stroked home his first goal since February, firing beyond the hapless Gourlay from 12 yards out.
Reading loanee McNulty and Lawrence Shankland linked-up well in the early stages, liberated in front of the Terrors’ diamond midfield.
Fuchs, Calum Butcher, Ian Harkes and Adrian Sporle neatly kept the ball and dialled the tempo up and down when required.
With Ryan Edwards winning everything in the air behind them, the ball was constantly dropping into their mini game of rondo in the middle of the park.
The quartet helped release Shankland to lash over from distance on 22 minutes, with a confident McNulty twice curling wide from their service, too.
The energy of Fuchs and Sporle, particularly, stood out.
Accies end first half the stronger side
However, in the final 15 minutes of the opening period that dynamism let up.
The hosts, desperate to get back on level terms, fired a barrage of efforts Siegrist’s way, with McMann continuing to lead Accies’ attacking arsenal.
Reynolds had to deal with his enticing cross before Siegrist pushed away McMann’s speculative left-foot drive from the resultant corner.
Talisman Ross Callachan started to come into the contest for Accies, with Edwards denying him a shooting opportunity after Ronan Hughes picked him out nicely.
Siegrist made his third big save of the clash, denying Kyle Munro on 33 minutes, before Callachan left him helpless dinking the ball over the big Swiss only to see it land on the roof of the net.
Hughes lashed his own effort wide before Hakeem Odoffin skewed a diving header past the post as the Lanarkshire lads cranked up the heat.
Sporle cooled things down for United heading into the half, as the Argentine saw his shot charged down on the break.
Callachan headed over from a corner in stoppage time as Brian Rice’s men went into the interval the stronger.
Hosts see penalty claim waved away as Hoti makes Tangerines debut
They started the second 45 in the same manner, with Siegrist denying Callachan with his feet before Munro succumbed to heading the rebound wide.
Hughes was next to nod past the post with Munro the provider this time.
Hamilton saw a penalty claim turned down on 54 minutes by referee Bobby Madden as Bruce Anderson went to ground under pressure from Reynolds.
United boss Micky Mellon introduced Nicky Clark and Peter Pawlett hoping to spark some life into his side.
However, just after the hour mark, Odoffin cut in on to his left foot and forced Siegrist into a smart save down to his left.
Anderson contrived to lash a Lee Hodson cutback into orbit soon after as Accies kept knocking at the door only to find it jammed shut.
Shankland scooped way over as United broke on 67 minutes as they struggled to create opportunities to kill the game off.
Mellon introduced young midfielder Florent Hoti for his Tangerines debut on 71 minutes, the 20-year-old checking in for the impressive Jeando Fuchs.
McNulty and Accies defender Aaron Martin got embroiled in a scuffle as tensions ran high entering the closing stages.
Substitute Louis Appere went down in the box with five minutes remaining, leading the United bench to scream for a penalty, but Madden wasn’t moved.
Despite that disappointment, United saw out the 90 minutes – with Appere and Clark both having chances to seal the deal – to pick up a valuable three points that rules out relegation or play-offs.
Hamilton, rooted to the bottom, remain very much in the mire.
Hamilton (3-4-3): Gourlay (GK); Hamilton, Martin, Easton (C) (Smith 79); Hodson, Odoffin, Hughes, McMann; Callachan, Anderson, Munro.
Subs not used: Scully (GK), Stirling, Stanger, Moyo and Redfern.
Dundee United (4-1-2-1-2): Siegrist (GK); L Smith, Edwards, Reynolds (C), Robson; Butcher; Fuchs (Hoti 71), Harkes (Pawlett 57); Sporle (Clark 57); McNulty, Shankland (Appere 84).
Subs not used: Deniz (GK), Connolly, Chalmers, Bolton and K Smith.
Referee: Bobby Madden.