Kilmarnock had come from behind to win their four previous games but, although they fought back to draw and move into second place, this felt like a defeat. The home fans, who clearly have short memories, made their displeasure with this performance known at the final whistle.
Yet this flat display is surely a blip rather than a return to the bad old days. Everyone is entitled to a below-par performance and this was certainly one of those.
Manager Steve Clarke certainly thought so. While accepting that Killie were not at their best (“none of my players particularly impressed me today”), he also preferred to accentuate the positive.
“Hamilton were good today,” he said. “They got the game they wanted. We didn’t impose ourselves so it’s probably a decent point for us. When you don’t play well it’s important you don’t lose. That shows a good mentality. That keeps the run going, five games unbeaten.”
Eamonn Brophy squandered the first opportunity of the afternoon, volleying wastefully over the bar after being picked out by Bright Enobakhare’s audacious chipped pass in the 12th minute. Four minutes later Aaron Tshibola’s attempted clearance from James Keatings’ free-kick was heading for Jamie MacDonald’s top left-hand corner until the goalkeeper clawed it away.
However, the visitors broke the deadlock from a set play. Keatings whipped in another free-kick from the right flank and it would have snuck inside the far post unaided but veteran winger Dougie Imrie claimed the final touch with a diving header.
Kilmarnock restored parity on the stroke of half-time when Rory McKenzie’s emphatic left-foot drive from 15 yards gave Gary Woods no chance after the midfielder had been teed up by Greg Stewart.
The hosts continued to look vulnerable after the break. Fredrik Brustad had a shot turned behind by MacDonald after Greg Taylor had given the ball away to Mickel Miller 30 yards out. Then Keatings failed to hit the target from six yards after Imrie’s low cross had left him with a tap-in.
Clarke’s men saw plenty of the ball but they badly missed the directness and trickery of suspended Northern Ireland winger Jordan Jones.
Hamilton substitute Steven Boyd was sent off in stoppage time, a second caution for a lazy foul on Stuart Findlay.