Accies media reporter Mark Gillespie with the details from Saturday’s draw at Tynecastle…
Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh
Saturday 31st August 2019, 3pm
Heart of Midlothian 2 Hamilton Academical 2
A point in Gorgie should arguably have been all three, George Oakley’s double moving us up to seventh spot going into the international break.
We battled back from behind twice to stun the hosts. A strong second half display had us finishing the game on top to almost end a 42 year winless streak at Tynecastle. In the end manager Brian Rice was happy to settle for a point as he praised his side post-match.
“I’m delighted to get a point, but I’m disappointed we didn’t get the three. I think the performance merited that. We won’t get the credit because we’re Hamilton. I understand that, but today was a great performance by us”, he said.
“I went with two up front today, sometimes your personnel dictates that. George got his rewards today and Marios had plenty of chances. It gives the rest of the lads confidence knowing that when the ball goes up there there’s two lads who put the work in to keep it there.”
“I’ve got a really youthful squad that I’m building, but they’re all good players. I’ve left the club captain on the bench today. I’ve got five or six coming back who will all be pushing for a place. It’s great for the club and I just hope we can build on this.”
Brian Easton returned from suspension to captain the side as the club skipper started on the bench. It was one of four changes from last weekend’s defeat in the Lanarkshire derby. Markus Fjortoft made a first league start in defence, with Blair Alston returning to bolster the midfield. Marios Ogkmpoe started up front in a 442 formation.
The hosts made three changes of their own from last weekend. Doyle returned in goal for Craig Levein’s men, with White and Henderson the other changes as they sought to bounce back from defeat at Parkhead.
Accies made solid enough start, George Oakley showing some nice touches to get us up the pitch. We had the first attempt on goal on 10 minutes, McGowan’s shot from the corner of the box deflected wide.
But Hearts started to take a grip of the first half from there, new signing Glen Whelan’s experience starting to influence things. Danger also came from the flanks, Berra glancing an Irving corner over on 12 minutes. Jake Mulraney found the net two minutes later but was chalked off for offside.
But there was a sense of inevitability about the opener on 20 minutes, Whelan running 30 yards unopposed at the Accies defence to slide in Sean Clare to place low past Fon Williams.
We didn’t fold though. Instead Accies showed their resolve to almost level straight away. Lewis Smith went on a trademark run, cutting inside from the flank to unleash a powerful effort from 20 yards, Doyle punching over his bar. Ogkmpoe headed inches wide from the resulting corner. Accies were right back in the game.
Hearts tried to restore their advantage as a sometimes niggly first half came to a close, Fon Williams showing good point-blank reactions as a dangerous cross came off Stubbs in the box on 37 minutes.
It was Accies who got the greater benefit from the half time interval and five minutes after the restart we had levelled. It was route one with a bit of help from a defensive mix up between Berra and White at a long ball. But Oakley nipped in to tap home his second league goal of the season.
Hearts were spurred into life and retook the lead eight minutes later. Clare had already headed a Mulraney cross wide at the far post on 54 minutes, before Berra rose to head home an Irving corner to make amends for that defensive howler.
We had it all to do again but responded once again. The two Accies strikers giving a nervous looking Hearts defence a tough afternoon. Ogkmpoe was on the end of things, heading just wide from a McGowan cross on the hour. The big striker was so unlucky a minute later, striking the bar after a quick counter involving Easton and Alston.
Accies kept believing and were deservedly level on 73 minutes as Oakley found Doyle’s bottom corner from the edge of the box, after McGowan set him up after a long diagonal ball.
We looked a threat into the latter stages as the home doubts grew but couldn’t find a winner to end that four decade hoodoo.
Hearts: Doyle, White (Brandon, 65), Berra, Clare, Washington, Mulraney, Whelan, Halkett, Irving (Naismith, 80), Henderson (Meshino, 33), Hickey,Subs Unused: Zlamal, Ikpeazu, Damour, Dikamona
Goals: Clare, 20, Berra, 58
Cautions: Berra, 27
Accies: Fon Williams, McGowan (MacKinnon, 78 ), Fjortoft, Collar (Hughes, 81), Oakley (Moyo, 73), Alston, Gogic, Easton (c), Stubbs, L Smith, Ogkmpoe; Subs Unused: Southwood, Cunningham, Want, Mimnaugh
Goals: Oakley, 51, 73
Bookings: MacKinnon, 80, Collar, 80
Referee: Greg Aitken Assistants: Graeme Leslie and Paul O’Neill ; Fourth Official: Gavin Ross
Attendance: 15,347 (166 Accies)