Every year Hamilton are the favourites to be relegated and every year they confound their critics with performances just like this one. This was all about effort, determination and a willingness to take one for the team when required.
Hamilton were propping up the Premiership before Wednesday’s shock win over Rangers at Ibrox but this latest success – achieved while playing the final 12 minutes with ten men following the dismissal of substitute Mickel Miller – hoisted them four points clear of bottom club Hearts and two above St Mirren in the play-off place. They are not about to go gentle into that dark night.
Manager Brian Rice was thrilled by his players’ application and dedication to the cause and praised them for their unity.
“I’ve had worse weeks,” he said. “It’s been fantastic, with two clean sheets – at Ibrox and then here. That’s a sign of a group of players working as a unit – it was a real team performance today.
“The conditions were absolutely horrendous and you probably don’t appreciate that sitting in the stand. I keep saying that the wind can ruin games and, even though we won, it ruined this one.
“But we were phenomenal. They kept digging in and they just go further and further and that’s testament to their spirit and their determination not to lose. It was magnificent.
“I keep telling them not to feel sorry for themselves, whether it’s about fouls, red cards or last-minute goals and that, if they keep working hard and training properly, it will turn.
“This week we’ve done all of those things and it’s been brilliant for us.”
Both sides created chances during an end-to-end first half but defences prevailed and that continued after the break. The strong wind and over-fussy officiating by referee Willie Collum meant that the second period paled in comparison with the first, but Marios Ogkmpoe had two decent attempts, one blocked by Stuart Findlay and the other saved by Laurentiu Branescu.
Miller had been harshly booked for a challenge on Stephen O’Donnell earlier so, when he brought down Chris Burke in the 78th minute, he saw red and it looked as though Killie would press home their numerical advantage.
Instead, defender Kirk Broadfoot took a comedy swing at Will Collar’s low cross, missing the ball completely but connecting with Ogkmpoe. Mr Collum pointed to the spot and Ogkmpoe converted.