Hamilton were frustratingly held at home yesterday afternoon as Brian Graham came off the bench to snatch a point for The Staggies right at the death.
After Billy McKay’s first-minute opener, Hamilton put in a superb second-half performance and two quickfire goals from Lewis Smith and George Oakley looked to have sealed Accies first win since September, but once again they conceded a late goal as Brian Graham slammed home Michael Gardyne’s cross two minutes from time.
Hamilton made one change from the midweek game against Aberdeen with Shaun Want coming in to replace Ronan Hughes.
Ross County made four changes from the side that was torn apart by Rangers. Lee Erwin made his first league start for County alongside Keith Watson, Michael Gardyne and Billy Mckay while Tom Gritvosti, Sean Kelly, Joe Chalmers and Brian Graham dropped out.
The first goal of the afternoon didn’t take long to arrive, with the visitors taking the lead after just 43 seconds when Lee Erwins effort from outside the box was poorly dealt with by Owain Fon-Williams and Billy McKay was in the right place at the right time to fire home the rebound home.
Hamilton tried to fight back and went close on the 11th minute when Mickel Millers corner was headed over the bar by Sam Stubbs, before Scott McMann was booked for simulation as he tried to get a penalty.
County had a decent claim themselves for a spot-kick when Alex Gogic knocked Ross Stewart over in the box, but referee Colin Steven was unmoved.
The visitors had an excellent chance to double their lead just before the break when a Stewart was send through by Erwin, but the winger’s chip ended up going wide of the post.
Brian Rice threw on Steve Davies on for the second-half and it was a game changing substituion as Accies were beginning to play some excellent football and gather a huge amount of momentum.
It only looked a matter of time until Hamilton equalised though and they deservedly done so on the 52nd minute. A fantastic pass from Scott Martin saw him play in Smith, before the youngster breezed by Richard Foster, cut inside and fired beyond Ross Laidlaw.
George Oakley was also booked for diving when he was clattered by Liam Fontaine, but the Englishman made amends when he put Hamilton ahead minutes later as his strike from distance flew into the bottom left-hand corner.
Despite Hamilton being in sheer dominance, there was still tension in the home end and a third goal was definetely needed to settle the nerves. It nearly came on the 67th minute when Miller burst into the box and fired his effort just wide.
The game was turned on its head when County levelled minutes before full-time with their first shot of the second-half. A long ball found Gardyne on the wing before he outpaced Gogic and cut it back for substiute Brian Graham, who slammed home from close-range.
Things got from bad to worse for Hamilton as Scott Martin was sent off for dissent and they just about managed to hold on for a point as a last-minute scramble nearly saw Ross County take all three points.
Full Time- Hamilton 2-2 Ross County
Brian Rice- “I think it’s a total injustice that we didn’t win the game. We have had total possession of the football until the last 10 minutes.
“We’ve had chances, numerous set plays. In my opinion – only my opinion – I thought we deserved to win the game.”
Stuart Kettlewell- ” “There’s a bit of disappointment from us. We’re really happy with the point we got last week at Easter Road being two goals down.
“It’s hard to be too critical on the players because it’s another late goal to get us a point away from home but I think there has to be that degree of disappointment because I don’t think we hit any kind of level up until that second goal in the second half.”
Yesterday was a sore one, it was a mental game. We played our worst-half of football so far this season followed by the best you will see this season. It looked as if we were going to hold out for an important three points, but then Brian Rice brought off our best player, I just don’t get it. Coincidentally their winning goal came down that side as well and Ronan Hughes was no where to be seen. I just can’t see where our next points are coming from.
Fon-Williams, Want, Stubbs, Hamilton, McMann, Gogic, Martin, Miller(90), Smith(87), Cunningham(46), Oakley
Subs- Southwood, MacKinnon, Hunt(90), Hughes(87), Beck, Moyo, Davies(46)
Ross County XI
Laidlaw, Fraser, Watson, Fontaine, Foster, Spence(73), Draper, Stewart, McKay(65), Gardyne, Erwin(63)
Subs- Dixon-Hodge, Morris, Chalmers, Henderson(73), Kelly, Mullin(65), Graham(63)
Referee- Colin Steven
Assistants- David Roome & Alastair Mather
Fourth Official- Don Robertson
Goals- McKay(1), Smith(52), Oakley(64), Graham(88)
Yellow Cards- McMann(27), Watson(30), Gardyne(50), Oakley(62), Fontaine(75)
Red Cards- Martin(90)