Widely tipped for relegation once again, Hamilton Accies are making a pretty early start to their annual campaign to confound the sceptics this time around.
This 90 minutes showed precisely why anyone writing off Martin Canning’s side does so at their peril – two-nil down after an hour, they summoned up the character and street-wise nous to claw their way back to a share of the points. The penalty award that led to Ali Crawford’s late equaliser might have had a big question mark over it, but they had earned the break that came their way.
By the same turn this was a sore relinquishing of two points by Kilmarnock. Still they search for that elusive first win of the season and with all four of their league fixtures to date having been at home it looks as though they could do with a few selected readings from the Accies survival guidebook.
“It’s good momentum for us at the moment and we want to try and keep that,” acknowledged the happy Canning afterwards.
“I’m delighted with our start and it was pleasing today that there was a different aspect to it. We got a lot of credit last week against Hibs for dominating the game and playing really well. Today we were two-nothing down and had to show the opposite side – that we can dig deep when have to.”
Certainly Accies had quite a bit of excavating to do to get themselves out of the hole they found themselves in after a shaky start to this game.
Killie swarmed forward and got themselves ahead with only three minutes on the clock. Kris Boyd was nudged to the floor just outside the box and Dom Thomas dumbfounded the Accies defence by going directly for goal despite the tight angle. Louis Longridge reacted late to the danger and only succeeded in diverting it beyond Gary Woods and into his own net.
In the following quarter of an hour the hosts could easily have added another couple, with Boyd missing the sort of chance he would normally bury with Woods at his mercy. Alas he got his angles wrong and spurned the opportunity – just a few minutes later he tweaked a muscle and his afternoon was over, replaced by Lee Erwin.
This coincided with Hamilton starting to push forward with a bit more intent and Longridge came close rectifying the balance sheet for his afternoon’s work with a stinging effort which Jamie MacDonald did well to palm to safety. By the interval the visitors must have already fancied their chances of taking something from this game – however, not long after the restart, they were carved open with a simple through ball by the impressive Adam Frizzell picking out Erwin. The former Motherwell man calmly lofted it over Woods to double Killie’s advantage.
Laudably, though, Canning’s men refused to throw in the towel. Full back Giannis Skondras had only moments earlier been denied by a fine last-ditch tackle by Greg Taylor, but second time around he was merciless, absolutely burying a drive past MacDonald from a Scott McMann cross.
It made for a tense finale with no shortage of angst among the home support. The edginess worked to Accies advantage and they could sense they might get another chance. Sure enough they did, albeit from a contentious penalty award as Greg Docherty stumbled under a challenge from Steven Smith in the Killie box with the final whistle looming. Not that the debate bothered Crawford one jot and he drilled it home to secure yet another precious point for the battling Lanarkshire side.
“If you go two-nil up you’ve got to see the game out – it’s about game management,” lamented Killie manager Lee McCulloch. “It’s disappointing, but the positive is that we got a point.”