WHATEVER else might be said about Hamilton, they are deserving of a George Galloway-style address. In earning a point for a second successive Saturday after finding themselves a goal and a man down, you just have to salute their courage, their strength, their indefatigability. And salute, in particular, Dougie Imrie, their salvage-job specialist who has hit equalisers in consecutive 1-1 draws.
At 32, Imrie, the attacker of no fixed position, is now finding the net as never before in his career. His 79th minute strike yesterday was his fourth goal in five games. His best total for a season is five. “I’ve been trying to add goals to my game for a few years now,” he said. “I don’t know what’s happened in the last month but everything has seemed to click.”
It certainly did when he showed the sangfroid of a goal sniffer in racing on to a defence-splitting pass before capitalising on substitute keeper Ryan Scully’s rashness in rushing from his box.
“I was originally planning to shoot but the keeper came out too quickly and I realised that I would have time to take the ball round him,” Imrie admitted. “He made my mind up for me – if he’d come out more slowly then I might have had a problem. But I had time to change my plan.”
Scully’s arrival came about when Tomas Cerny had to leave the field after half an hour with an ankle problem. Accies had their own handicap to overcome, having to play out the entire second half with ten men against a Thistle side chasing a third straight victory. Yet as soon as they found themselves 1-0 behind on the hour-mark to Mathias Pogba’s first goal in Partick colours, it was as if some sort of survival instinct kicked in.
With player-manager Martin Canning bringing himself on for a first appearance this season, ostensibly to fill the gap in central defence created by Lucas Tagliapietra’s dismissal, it was the visitors who showed most verve in the closing stages. “The work-rate and endeavour in the second half was really good,” said Canning. “We always pride ourselves on getting the ball down and passing it, and that’s two weeks in a row we’ve managed to do that with ten men. A lot of teams would let their heads go down when they lose a man and a goal but the lads didn’t.”
Canning wasn’t keen to single out individuals yet he was unable to avoid showering Imrie with garlands. “On the GPS he runs the most every week, and it’s great when guys like that get their rewards and get the headlines because they deserve it,” Canning said.
The Hamilton camp felt their side was served an injustice when referee Euan Anderson showed Tagliapietra a straight red in time added on in the first period for hauling back David Amoo when the forward had wriggled free of him and was headed for goal. They believed they had men retreating to put in question the clear goalscoring opportunity the winger would have had. However, the decision didn’t seem contentious.
How Thistle could squander both that advantage and the seemingly crucial one they gained when a statuesque Accies defence allowed Pogba to peel off his marker and clip in a Amoo cross understandably dismayed Partick manager Alan Archibald. “When you go a goal in front and the opposition are down to ten men, you should see the game out,” he said. “It was a poor reaction from us after we scored. It is bitterly disappointing.
“We seemed to sit back and I don’t know why, as opposed to keeping our shape and moving Hamilton around. It is a sore one to take.”