Ross County 1 - 1 Hamilton: Missed chances cost Staggies

Accies Massimo Donati, right, puts a challenge in on Countys Liam Boyce. Picture: Sammy Turner/SNSAccies Massimo Donati, right, puts a challenge in on Countys Liam Boyce. Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS
Accies Massimo Donati, right, puts a challenge in on Countys Liam Boyce. Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS
Managers, with few exceptions, like to ignore the league table until the Christmas decorations are down. It should be no mystery why '“ there would be only madness bred from studying the weekly permutations of this Premiership bottom half.

Had either side here won, they would have been left nestling in the top six. At 1-0 down, Hamilton were heading for bottom spot.

Ross County, though, really should have been celebrating their first back-to-back wins since August. For 77 minutes in Dingwall, there was only one winner. County spurned all but one of a bucket-load of chances, with Liam Boyce creating the first-half lead, but Ali Crawford’s exquisitely swerved free-kick a reminder of Accies’ stubborn defiance this season.

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This was the seventh time from seven attempts Accies had failed to win on the road in the league.

Their manager MartinCanning praised that spirit of resilience in fighting back.

“I’ve stood speaking after games many times before and been disappointed with a point. Today I’m happy with a point,” Canning said. “If I’m being honest, Ross County were probably slightly better than us, created more.”

The hosts lost Chris Burke to a kidney complaint before the match. Ex-Dundee United midfielder Ryan Dow stepped in. For Accies, Dougie Imrie dropped to the bench ahead his 400th senior appearance.

Chances for the hosts mounted from the opening minute but the best, after 14 minutes, came as Liam Boyce went close with a header from Kenny van der Weg’s delivery.

Finally, six minutes before the break, County pressure told.

Craig Curran slipped a pass inside to Gardyne to the left of the Accies penalty area. The County winger’s cross was perfectly-flighted to find Boyce free at the back of the six-yard box. The Northern Ireland international smashed a header inside the left-hand post for 
his eighth finish of the season.

Curran exited injured at the break, with Alex Schalk grasping his chance from the bench and how the hosts could have done with him bringing along his shooting boots.

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On three occasions, Schalk with great alertness sped away behind Hamilton’s defences and three times he shot narrowly wide. Late in the match, Schalk would again be denied, this time by the legs of the Accies keeper Gary Woods.

Canning brought on Imrie on the hour mark but the pattern didn’t falter with the home team’s attempt count growing, as did their edginess.

They were right to be nervous: Accies were level after 77 minutes. Boyce gave away a free-kick 25 yards out and it was meat and drink to Ali Crawford who expertly swirled a wonderful strike past helpless Fox.

Jim McIntyre, the County manager, could console himself in the knowledge, on another day, his team would have been out of sight.

“We played really well and got into great areas, but in the final third with the last pass we let ourselves down,” he said.