Hamilton might rue the fact they couldn’t hold on to a hard-earned lead given to them by Steve Davies in a compelling second half but seven points clear of the automatic drop spot at this stage of the season looks like a pretty decent advantage. As for St Mirren, their current form and performances are hardly that of a side that has lost belief in its ability to secure survival.
Reflecting on a game where the pendulum of fortune swung with increasing velocity as it progressed Hamilton manager Brian Rice observed: “It’s a credit to all the players on the pitch today. I’ve been in these situations before where it’s tense and tight – but it was like a basketball game at the end.”
“I’m not happy with a point. But it’s one more than we had before the game and another point away from Dundee with one less game to play.”
Given the way St Mirren started this game, attacking with zest and intensity, Rice’s side might initially have been delighted at getting something out of it. The opening quarter belonged to the visitors and Brad Lyons might well have had them in front inside five minutes with a quick succession of chances.
Accies were clinging on unconvincingly and there was drama as Anders Dreyer was sent crashing to the floor by a robust challenge from Ziggy Gordon in the box. There were howls of outrage from the St Mirren fans but match referee John Beaton deemed it no penalty.
For all this ebullience from the visitors it was Hamilton who came closest to securing a first half breakthrough as Darian MacKinnon threaded the ball through to Davies who seemed set to score. Somehow Vaclav Hladky managed to get his legs in the way and the Accies midfielder was denied for the time being at least.
The home side certainly seem to pick up the message at the interval they would need to up the pace if they were to stay in this game. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery in that Accies came out of the traps in a manner not dissimilar to how Saints had started the game – but it was also pretty effective. A trio of very plausible chances were engineered by the Lanarkshire men before they finally made one count with Davies deftly steering the ball home from eight yards following good work by substitute Tony Andreu.
After all that hard work to get their noses in front, it must have been galling for the hosts to put it mildly that it was undone only three minutes later by a clumsy challenge from Alex Gogic in his own box on Dreyer. The Dane picked himself up and clinically stuck away the spot kick to restore parity.
Considering what was at stake the was a remarkable openness to the proceedings from thereon with both sides going for it and no thoughts of just holding on to what they had. All that was lacking was a bit of composure as chances were spurned by either side. However in the closing moments it took a stupendous save from Hladky to turn away a seemingly goal-bound George Oakley volley and react immediately and sharply to deny Andreu. On such moments can a season’s endeavours can hinge and small wonder the Czech goalkeeper was lauded by team mates and supporters in the aftermath.
“I don’t think he (Hladky) has had too much to do today,” remarked St Mirren Oran Kearney, “but he’s made two great saves in each half, particularly the one at the end.”
“We take the point and move on. There’s a huge amount of football still to go.”