If you’re going to prevail in a relegation battle you need guts and grit and Hamilton seem to have tapped into an abundance of these qualities just at the right time.
For the second time in three days they ground out a point with only ten men after full-back Ioannis Skondras was controversially sent off just before the break.
Although the Lanarkshire men surrendered the lead they held at half-time as Ross County made the extra man pay, they gave up very little else and deservedly held on for a share of the spoils.
Having picked up five points from their last three games, Martin Canning’s side have now managed to edge above local rivals Motherwell and out of the relegation play-off place, albeit only on goal difference.
Both managers agreed that Skondras appeared to have been harshly punished, with Canning regarding it as a “game changer” before praising his players’ performance.
“At this time of the season it’s important to show your desire and how deep you’re willing to dig”, he said. “For me, the last two games have shown how hard we’re willing to fight – we’ve got that fire in our belly and the players put their bodies on the line in adverse circumstances.”
Given what was to follow, the opening to this game was certainly worthy of being described as ‘dream-like’ for the home side.
Greg Docherty fed the ball to Massimo Donati on the edge of the County box and the veteran Italian swept a majestic shot into the top corner of the goal with just over a couple of minutes gone.
Remarkably, the Highlanders could – and should – have been on level terms almost immediately as Ryan Dow’s low cross was shanked over the crossbar by Tim Chow from ten yards out.
It continued in this vein for quite a while, with decent efforts on goal traded freely.
Alex D’Acol sent in a volley every bit as sweetly struck as Donati’s strike but this time Scott Fox got his fingertips to it. At the other end, Michael Gardyne’s 25-yard drive whistled just wide of the target.
It became a bit more of a battle of attrition after that but Accies generally held the upper hand.
The challenges were meaty at times but even so it was a bit of a surprise when match referee Steven McLean held aloft the red card when Skondras mistimed a challenge on Dow right on the stroke of half-time.
The dynamics of the game predictably changed and County immediately sought to make their numerical superiority count.
Dow saw a 25-yard drive agonisingly smack off the crossbar as the siege took hold. Remi Matthews then produced a brilliant stop to divert a Martin Woods free-kick but it was effectively in vain as Craig Curran stabbed in the equaliser from the resultant corner.
The road seemed to be leading towards three points for the visitors but, although they had they exerted a fair amount of pressure, they never quite summoned up the same intensity in their play.
Accies noticeably began to gather some belief that they could they see this one out. Indeed, the two best openings of the closing stages certainly came their way, with a surging run from Scott McMann seeing Fox pull off a fine block from his well struck shot and then Alex Gogic wastefully squandering a decent view of Fox’s goal right at the end with a wayward shot.
County manager Jim McIntyre took a philosophical view of the outcome. “We take the point today – we know from midweek that it’s never easy against ten men.”