Five goals, two red cards and a dramatic finale rewarded the home fans at least on a freezing cold afternoon at the SuperSeal Stadium.
It was a baptism of fire for referee Gavin Duncan, taking charge of his first Premiership match. It’s unlikely he’ll have fond memories of the afternoon; County manager Owen Coyle certainly won’t, claiming that the rookie official cost his side the match.
“I’m loathe to criticise referees as it’s such a tough job but for their penalty, Dougie Imrie is already on the way down before there’s any contact,” he said.
“At their third goal, Imrie has slipped and he gives them a foul. From that point, the free-kick hits Jamie Lindsay on the back and he’s on the ground because he’s been pushed there two-handed.
“I could say a lot more but I’m trying to keep my temper in check. Some of the stuff that went against us today was incredible. As for the bust-up at the end, there’s no place for that and I’ve told my players that.
“I didn’t know that it was the referee’s first game. I’m going to speak to him now. The best way I can put it is that I hope he’s better for the experience.”
Chris Eagles ought to have opened his account for County in the seventh minute. Released by Michael Gardyne’s long diagonal ball, he took too long to pull the trigger and eventually dinked a shot into the side netting.
Ionnas Skondras and Danny Redmond both went close for the hosts with efforts from distance and Scott Fox then made a fine save to keep out a Greg Docherty header from a Skondras cross as Accies attempted to record a first win at home in over four months.
It was Gardyne who sent them on their way with an ill-judged challenge on Imrie. Referee Duncan pointed to the spot and Imrie sent Fox to his left and the ball to his right.
County began to dominate possession and Eagles shaved the outside of Gary Woods’ left-hand post with a dipping shot.
The winger was a constant threat and Xavier Tomas was booked for a cynical foul on him after the break as Chris Routis fired a free-kick inches wide.
County got the equaliser they merited when Gardyne was brought down by Accies substitute Antonio Rojano. Craig Curran’s resulting penalty was weak but Woods could only push the ball back out to him and the striker made no mistake at the second attempt.
Hamilton regained the lead within seconds when Georgios Sarris’s back-header from an Imrie cross arced over Fox and under the crossbar.
Kenny van der Weg headed home from a Davis Keillor-Dunn corner but Gardyne was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Accies won it when a free-kick from Ali Crawford was inadvertently diverted behind Fox by Lindsay. Then came a melee which saw Skondras dismissed for throwing punches and, after a brawl, Sarris and van der Weg were also cautioned.