Dundee Utd 1 Hamilton 1: Late equaliser fails to calm irate Levein as he lambasts luckless Hamilton
IT WAS deep into injury time and Hamilton looked to be cruising towards their first win in two months when real drama struck.
Darren Dods met a Craig Conway corner and the ball cannoned off Brian Easton and went in leaving a Hamilton side, already down to ten men after Simon Mensing's red card, devastated. Until that point it had seemed that Richard Offiong's eighth minute opener would lift them off the foot of the table but those final agonising seconds could prove crucial in the relegation run-in.
Still, the late goal wasn't enough to calm down United manager Craig Levein. "Hamilton came here with a gameplan to spoil the match," he said. "We were only 15 minutes in and they were already wasting time. Don't tell me they play good football, that wasn't good football.
"They tried every trick in the book to stop the game. I asked the kitman to put his watch on the fouls in the second half and never mind five minutes injury time, there should have eleven-and-a-half minutes. If that had been the case we would have scored three or four."
Yes, it's a cruel game and right now no-one knows that more than Hamilton boss Billy Reid. While Gretna were almost down and out before a ball was kicked in anguish last term, his side won't go down without kicking or screaming. But unless lady luck shines on them soon, they could be without a win for some time.
Yet it all started so well. The impressive James McCarthy started the eighth minute move with a clever pass wide for Mensing, who in turn delivered a crisp first-time ball into the six-yard box.
Offiong beat the offside trap to tap home and United, many people's tips for a Europa League spot, were undone by their little-fancied visitors.
As expected, United tried to bounce straight back into the game and they almost did so on 16 minutes. Craig Conway crossed, Francisco Sandaza controlled, turned and shot only for Mensing to deflect wide for a corner.
James McArthur then came close with two long-range strikes before the break. Firstly, he fired inches wide from 25 yards then, from a similar range, his dipping lob was saved by Zaluska.
The second period was far less entertaining than the first with most incidents centring around referee Crawford Allan. With several meaty challenges and the game threatening to spiral out of control, Allan stamped his authority on 56 minutes.
Lee Wilkie's poor challenge on McCarthy led to a deserved yellow card for the United skipper and sparked fury amongst the Hamilton players, with Mark McLaughlin and Scott Robertson both booked for a touchline spat.
Then Hamilton really should have tied it up as United were cruelly exposed at the back with Mensing setting up the unmarked Offiong who was far too casual from 15 yards in shooting wide.
Mensing was then red carded for a second booking after getting involved in the afters that followed a McArhur tackle on Conway before deep into injury time United "earned" a leveller.
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