Never write off Hamilton Accies as Brian Rice's men come back from 4-0 down against Raith Rovers
For years in the Premiership, Hamilton Accies dined out on their never-say-die reputation, escaping the much-predicted relegation season after season until they finally succumbed to the drop last term.
They may now be in the Championship, but that fighting spirit is still very much within them, as proven by this wild game of football at Stark's Park. On 65 minutes, Hamilton trailed Raith Rovers 4-0 on opening day, were being roundly booed by those travelling fans that hadn't left already and manager Brian Rice cut a disconsolate figure on the touchline.
What happened in the next 25 or so minutes will go down as one of the best comebacks in Scottish football as Accies fought back to claim a point.
Raith had led thanks to a Lewis Vaughan brace, a sumptuous strike by Dario Zanatta and goal by Aidan Connolly. But Accies, inspired by fresh impetus from super substituites David Templeton, Andy Ryan and Scott McMann, hauled themselves off the canvas. Kieran MacDonald, who was at Raith last season, scored twice, while Ryan and Shaun Want also found the net.
"It was incredible we got four goals back," said Rice, who looked drained by the whole experience. "We spoke about never, ever giving up – just keep going. You just need a wee bit of luck, a wee bit of belief and you see the difference when we get our quality players on the pitch. Fair play to McMann, Ryan and Templeton – they have only trained for a week. They've had no pre-season."
Raith manager John McGlynn tried to keep his composure in his post-match press conference. "I think that was an amazing game," he said. "We were playing some excellent football. Them getting the goal back gave them a massive lift. It shouldn't have affected us, but it did. They took advantage of that. I don't think we continued to work as hard as we did. Lessons will have to be learned, but we played a massive part in the game.
"Hamilton are no mugs. Have you ever known a Hamilton team to give up? I've not, at any age group. Never, from under-10s all the way through."
Rovers opened the scoring on 13 minutes, Vaughan converting from the penalty spot after a Jamie Hamilton handball, and 12 minutes later Zanatta scored fine individual effort, cutting inside and arcing a shot beyond Ryan Fulton.
Hamilton had threatened in the first 45 but too easily lost the midfield battle, so Rice threw on his experienced, quality trio after the interval to try and turn the match. It didn't pay off to begin with, as Connolly drilled home on 52 minutes and then Vaughan bagged his second, a cute dink over Fulton.
Some Hamilton fans left, but their team never gave up. MacDonald headed home at the back post to start the comeback, then Ryan found the postage stamp with a rasping drive. Raith, who had spurned two gilt-edge chances in between, panicked, and when MacDonald bundled home with seven minutes left, Stark's Park got nervous. Templeton was pulling the strings and it was no surprise when, into the second minute of stoppage time, Want headed home the equaliser.
In case you had forgotten, never write off Hamilton. In a wide-open Championship title race, that trait will serve them well.