It all happened at the start and the end of this affair. David Templeton’s stoppage-time winner hoisted Hamilton above Thistle and out of the play-off position while goalkeeper Gary Woods pulled off a superb reflex save to keep out a header from Chris Erskine right at the death to secure all three points.
Those incidents, along with the two early goals, are what will survive in the memory but there was next to nothing to quicken the pulse in the 80 minutes which separated them. Not that Hamilton will care, after stopping the rot of five successive defeats. They were indebted to the maturity of Templeton, who quite deliberately took an age to gather the rebound after Tomas Cerny could not hold a fierce drive from Antonio Rojano. The winger displayed a cool head, ensuring he didn’t get under the ball, and, eventually, stroked it into the net from close range.
“Temps didn’t panic when the ball came to him, although I was wanting him to snatch at it,” said Hamilton manager Martin Canning. “I was shouting ‘Shoot!’ A more inexperienced player would have snatched at it and missed but he had the composure – more than I would have had in that situation. He took his time and it was a good finish.
“Lewis Ferguson also did magnificently well, with a great turn and pass for Antonio – it was the one moment of real quality for us in the match. We’ve lost late goals a few times this season so it’s nice to be on the other end of that for a change.”
A recurring theme for Hamilton this season is that their opponents rarely need to work hard for their goals and so it proved at the opener, when Greek centre-back Georgios Sarris needlessly manhandled Thistle’s Danny Devine, leaving referee Nick Walsh with no option but to point to the spot and caution the offender.
In-form Conor Sammon, on loan from Hearts, was the obvious candidate to take the penalty and he drove it low inside the right-hand post for his ninth goal in 12 games. Thistle, who kicked off just one point ahead of Hamilton, are also where they are for a reason, however, and dilatory defending at a Dougie Imrie corner allowed Rojano to restore parity with a free header just two minutes later.
Kris Doolan believed he had headed Thistle back in front but what would have been his 100th league goal for the Jags was ruled out when assistant referee Brian Templeton harshly flagged for offside.
Sammon failed to reappear after the interval, his place taken by Miles Storey. The match had become a scrappy affair long before then and home midfielder Lewis Ferguson was cautioned for simulation when he threw himself to the ground inside Thistle’s penalty area.
Thistle looked the more likely winners towards the end but it was Accies who stole it through Templeton’s nonchalant finish and Woods’ excellent save.
“We had three centre-halfs on the pitch and enough lads who know how to organise,” said Thistle manager Alan Archibald. “We should have enough nous about them to see the game out and take the point.”