CALLUM PATERSON scored and was sent off as Hearts’ 100 per cent record ended at New Douglas Park.
In a frantic and fiercely-contested game, Hamilton’s Jesus Garcia fired the winning goal three minutes from the end of regulation time. That came after a second-half melee in which Paterson was red carded and three others booked following the defender’s tackle on Darian MacKinnon.
In total, there were nine bookings and a red card in a game which spilled out of control towards the end.
Having been 1-0 down at the interval, Hearts led 2-1 through Paterson’s volley but the full-back was dismissed minutes later. That gave Hamilton the initiative and they equalised through the outstanding Ali Crawford before Garica Tena’s winner.
The result brought an end to Hearts’ winning run since the start of the new season. The Tynecastle side didn’t play especially well and were met by an aggressive and motivated home team. The red card turned the game in Hamilton’s favour, although it was hard to argue with the decision.
There was little sign of the madness which was to follow as the opening stages were relatively quiet. Hamilton earned the first shooting chance after capitalising on slack defensive play by Hearts.
Ali Crawford won possession from Morgaro Gomis in midfield following goalkeeper Neil Alexander’s chipped ball out from defence. Crawford drove forward for a 25-yard attempt which Alexander did well to push for a corner.
The Lanarkshire side competed fiercely in midfield, clealry intent on denying their visitors time to settle into any rhythm. When Hearts did get forward on 15 minutes, Juanma was clearly fouled by Garcia Tena near the goal line just outside the penalty area - but got no decision from referee Willie Collum. Seconds later, Hamilton’s on-loan Norwich City striker Carlton Morris appealed for a penalty at the other end after colliding with Igor Rossi. He, too, was denied.
The game continued with several uncompromising tackles until Antons Kurakins received a caution for a late and reckless tackle on Jamie Walker.
Morris was then booked for a another poor challenge on King. In between, Walker forced Hamilton goalkeeper Michael McGovern into his first save of the afternoon with a powerful drive on the run.
Hamilton began exposing what was a disjointed Hearts rearguard after the half-hour mark and might have found themselves three goals ahead by half-time.
First, Gramoz Kurtaj suffered an embarrassing miss on 36 minutes. Sent through by a clever pass from Crawford, he looked likely to score entering the penalty area until he seemingly kicked the ground despite being under no pressure from a defender. The ball rolled tamely wide as Kurtaj fell to the ground.
Then came more profligacy in front of goal. Accies broke from defence as Kurtaj put Crawford through, he was forced wide but managed to square the ball across the Hearts penalty box.
Grant Gillespie miskicked his attempted shot but the ball roled into the path of the onrushing Darian MacKinnon. He seemed destined to burst the net but instead lifted the ball high over the crossbar.
Eventually Hamilton did take an opportunity and, again, it left questions over Hearts’ defending. McGovern’s long goal kick was allowed to bounce, with Alim Ozturk appearing to leave it to Alexander behind him.
Kurtaj ambled in to prod the bouncing ball past Alexander and give Hamilton a deserved lead at that stage.
The 2710 travelling fans in attendance would have hoped for a drastic improvement from those in maroon in the second half. It took just eight minutes for their team to level this affair.
Sow scampered on to Rossi’s ball over the top and found Billy King in the penalty area. The young winger showed fine composure to control the ball and take a touch in a tight area before finishing high into the net.
Hearts had switched their formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 minutes earlier and now looked distinctly more dangerous in attack. Sow and Juanma together up front offered a physical presence and a touch of pace. They pressed and pressed and forced a second goal on 71 minutes.
Again King was involved inside the box, he laid the ball back to Juanma for a cross which Paterson lashed into the net on the volley at the back post. Both Kurakins and Gillespie hesitated as the ball arrived, but Paterson’s finish was unstoppable from seven yards.
The full-back was then red carded for a poor challenge on MacKinnon. Dribbling out of defence, he overran the ball and lunged in on the Hamilton player. MacKinnon was incensed and towered over Paterson as the Hearts defender lay grounded. When he rose, Collum brandished a red card.
MacKinnon, Garcis Tena, Buaben were all booked as players from both slides clashed. The match by now was out of Collum’s control. Even Kevin McHattie was cautioned for dissent despite being on the visitors’ bench.
There was a delay of five minutes until the match restarted. When it did, Hamilton wasted no time exploiting their numerical advantage. Crawford controlled a pass 20 yards from goal and dispatched a beautiful left-footed strike high into the top corner with six minutes remaining.
Victory was secured three minutes from the end of regulation time. Crawford’s corner was half-cleared, Garcia Tena’s shot hit Juwon Oshaniwa and the defender followed up to ram home the rebound. New Douglas Park erupted in joy, and with that Hearts’ record had gone.
Hamilton (4-1-4-1): McGovern; Gordon, Garcia Tena, Lucas, Kurakins; Gillespie; Imrie (Nade 80), Crawford, MacKinnon, Kurtaj (Docherty 90+5); Morris (Longridge 90 + 1). Subs not used: Martin, Redmond, Watson, Boyd.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Alexander; Paterson, Ozturk, Rossi, Oshaniwa; Buaben (Reilly 88), Gomis; Sow (McGhee 80), Walker, King (Nicholson 88); Juanma. Subs not used: Hamilton, McHattie, Oliver, McKirdy.
Referee: Willie Collum.