Accies media Mark Gillespie with his report on the weekend draw
Saturday 2nd November 3pm
Hamilton Academical 2 Ross County 2
A point felt like a defeat after fighting back to lead so late into the game. Second half strikes from Lewis Smith and George Oakley had overturned Billy McKay’s early opener to get Accies’ noses in front. But in a torrid final five minutes Scott Martin was dismissed and sub Brian Graham levelled for County with two minutes on the clock.
A point moves us up to eighth spot, but head coach Brian Rice was frustrated not see his side emerge with all three points.
“I thought we deserved more from the match full stop. We had a poor start and conceded a goal that we never concede, kicking off back to the edge of our own box. From then on in it was total domination until the last five or six minutes.”, he said post-match.
“I haven’t seen what got Scott Martin sent off for, but the referee’s made his decision pretty quickly. Something must have happened, but I’ll not talk about referees. They’re an easy target and it’s a hard, hard job.”
We were looking for a first win in four games and made just the one change from midweek, with Shaun Want replacing Ronan Hughes.
Our opponents shuffle their ranks, also hoping to bounce back from midweek defeat. Four changes saw Gardyne, Erwin McKay and Watson replaced by Grivosti, Kelly, Chalmers and Graham in the visitors’ line up.
And they had a dream start virtually from the first kick. Accies made a hash of the kick off, Lee Erwin nicking on to an edge of box ball, his shot parried away by Fon Williams. It sat up as a gift for Billy McKay to fire home the rebound from close range.
Such a bizarre start came as a wakeup call and Accies responded. Lewis Smith flashed just over on eight minutes, Stubbs heading just over from a corner two minutes later. We were able to load the box with numerous set piece opportunities but couldn’t capitalise.
Accies continued to have the better of a niggly first half, Cunningham spurning another free kick opportunity, firing over from 25 yards on the half hour. County had looked content to hit on the break but carved out the best chance of the half five minutes from the interval. Erwin threaded through, Ross Stewart beating the offside trap, but finding the wrong side of Fon Williams net.
Opposite number Ross Laidlaw hadn’t had a save to make for the opening 45. As so often this season, Accies would have to come out in the second half and prove the doubters wrong.
Half time sub Steve Davies almost made an instant impact on 50 minutes with a raking free kick just wide. Accies were on top, and equalised two minutes later. Martin fed through for Smith in the box, and he kept his balance to smash home his third league goal of the season.
Smith was instrumental in all the Accies attacks, as confidence grew, and we sought out a winner. With Gogic and Martin anchoring the midfield all the play built towards the visiting goal.
Smith turned provider as Accies took the lead on 64 minutes, finding Oakley on the edge of the box. The striker turned and swept a low shot into the bottom corner into Laidlaw’s net.
The visitors hadn’t caused much concern until they went for broke in a frantic final 10 minutes. Accies didn’t heed the warning signs after Josh Mullin fired inches wide on 80 minutes. Two minutes from time Gardyne had space down the left to pick put Graham at the near post to fire first time past Fon Williams.
The visitors might even have stolen it at the death. Accies suddenly hanging on. A chaotic finale saw Martin dismissed for violent conduct, and Fon Williams denying Stewart at close range in injury time.
Accies: Fon Williams, McMann, Oakley, Miller (Hunt, 90+3), Gogic, Cunningham (Davies, 45 HT), Want, Martin, Stubbs, L Smith (Hughes, 87), Hamilton; Subs Unused: Southwood, Beck, MacKinnon, Moyo
Bookings: McMann, 26, Oakley, 61
Red Card Martin, 90+3
Goals: L Smith, 52, Oakley, 64
Ross County: Laidlaw, Fraser, Fontaine, Draper, Gardyne, Erwin, (Graham, 63), McKay (Mullin, 65), Watson, Spence (Henderson, 73), Foster, Stewart; Subs Unused: Dixon-Hodge, Kelly, Morris, Chalmers
Bookings: Watson, 29, Gardyne, 50, Fontaine, 75
Goals: McKay, 40 seconds, Graham, 88
Referee: Colin Steven; Assistants: David Roome and Alastair Mather; 4th Official: Don Robertson