Heart of Midlothian 1 Hamilton Academical 1
Report by Mark Gillespie
It was an eventful afternoon to say the least, but Xavier Tomas’ second half header won Accies their first point at Tynecastle for 17 years. It stretches the unbeaten run to six games to keep Accies eighth in the table. But most of the attention was to be on the opposing dugout, with both manager and coach sent to the stand. Afterwards Martin Canning preferred to focus on the professionalism shown by his own players in the testing environment.
“It was a feisty game, with a lot to talk about, but I’m really proud of the players. Their attitude and discipline was fantastic. It’s an intense atmosphere here when the fans get behind their team, and to a man we were very professional. We didn’t get provoked or dragged into anything, and kept our discipline really well.”
“My overall feeling though is one of frustration that we haven’t won the game. I thought even eleven versus eleven we were the better team. We went behind to a fantastic free kick, don’t get me wrong, but we showed great spirit to get back into the game. But we had opportunities, particularly towards the end, and we should have taken all three points. It feels a bit like two points dropped.”
The match was overshadowed by the first half dismissal of Hearts’ Jamie Brandon, after which home fan hostility towards the officials spilled over into the dugout. Craig Levein and Austin MacPhee were both sent to the stand, the Hearts assistant’s tussle for a ball with Darian MacKinnon requiring police intervention. However, after the dust had settled, the Accies boss thinks Bobby Madden got the big calls right.
“I think it probably was a second yellow for the Hearts player. He’s caught Antonio with his elbow and by the laws of the game he has to go. With the Austin MacPhee incident I think the ref was also spot on. He’s pulled Darian over when he’s tried to get the ball. I took Darian off shortly after because I think there’s been an attempt to provoke him and get us down to ten men. I thought Darian did great not to get involved.”
The fire alarm before kick-off might have been a sign of the sparks set to fly later in a match which reached boiling point. Kick off was delayed by 15 minutes as Martin Canning stuck with the same eleven from the draw with Hibs. His opposite number meanwhile made two changes to his starting line-up, with John Souttar and Prince Buaben replacing Aaron Hughes and Harry Cochrane.
The hosts were without a win in five and looked to press the game in the opening stages. Accies were slow out of the blocks, with a slack exchange between McMann and Imrie allowing Miklinkovic the first opening after four minutes. The Hearts wide man charged into the box but couldn’t pick out a team mate and McMann recovered well to clear the danger and make amends.
Hearts had the better of it for the opening 20 but Hamilton gradually found their passing game and began to exert some pressure. Lyon had Rojano went clean through for a first sight of the Hearts goal on 21 minutes, but the Argentine couldn’t find the target. Minutes later, Templeton won a free kick on the edge of the box but the former Tynecastle man fired over the bar.
Templeton was finding space in and around the Hearts box, flashing another ball across the area on 31 minutes, it took a good block by McLaughlin to keep out MacKinnon’s point-blank shot as the belief grew in Accies.
It all started to turn sour shortly later, when Brandon saw two swift bookings, to the consternation of the home support. The first yellow was for a late challenge on Dougie Imrie before the Hearts man led with the elbow in a challenge on Rojano on 35 minutes to see red.
The hosts tried to use a sense of injustice to rally, but instead Templeton had a further two chances to almost make his former side pay. Firstly from a looping header just tipped over on 42 minutes, then from a raking shot on the cusp of half time that inched wide as Accies finished the half on top.
An ill-disciplined Hearts were looking for some magic and emerged from the break to score the game’s sensational opener. Sub Lewis Moore was fouled on the edge of the box after just a few minutes in, and Walker stepped up to arc an unstoppable free kick past Gary Woods.
Not to be deflated, Accies were soon back up the other end with a free kick of their own. Scott McMann played it short to MacKinnon inside the box, but McLaughlin pulled off another fine fingertip save to preserve the home lead.
Hearts went inches from making it two on 54 minutes, when Milinkovic took the ball down the outside of box and fired a low raking shot just wide of the post, before all hell broke loose on the touchline.
Bobby Madden continued to be the target of the home fury, and Hearts boss Craig Levein was sent to the stand on 50 minutes, followed swiftly by MacPhee after his touchline scrap with Darian MacKinnon erupted into a brawl. It seemed to affect the hosts’ discipline and concentration as Accies went for the jugular. They threw Bingham on for MacKinnon in an attacking change that soon paid dividends.
They went agonizingly close to levelling on 65 minutes, when Templeton burst into the box and his low shot struck the post. The rebound came out to Rojano, but McLaughlin pulled off another fine fingertip save to deny the striker.
But it only delayed the leveller, as Accies flooded forward sensing an equaliser. Docherty and McMann worked the ball nicely down the left to win a corner on 68 minutes, and Templeton’s delivery was met by Xavier Tomas to head home his first Accies goal.
But they should have won all three points in the closing quarter of an hour. A Docherty free kick flew just wide on 75 minutes, before Skondras teed up Bingham in the box on 84 minutes, but could only fire straight at McLaughlin.
Tomas had one final chance to be the hero, rising for another corner with two minutes left on the clock. His header seemed net bound, only for Hughes to recover off the line, and preserve a point for the hosts.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Smith, Souttar, Berra, Walker (Lafferty 78), Buaben, Djoum, Milinkovic (Hughes 71), Stockton, Brandon, Goncalves (Moore 45); Subs Unused: Hamilton, Cowie, Randall, Callachan.
Goal: Walker 47
Accies: Woods, Skondras, McMann, Sarris, Tomas, Imrie (c), Docherty, (Redmond, 86), Templeton, MacKinnon (Bingham, 58), Rojano, Lyon. Subs Unused: Gillespie, Donati, Fulton, Biabi, Cunningham.
Goal: Tomas 68.