Minus top scorer Louis Moult, Motherwell drew a blank with Hamilton at Fir Park tonight.
And even with an extra man for the final 16 minutes, after Darian McKinnon was sent off, the Steelmen failed to make the breakthrough and put some distance between themselves and their Lanarkshire rivals.
However, aggrieved ‘Well will point out they were denied a perfectly good goal and three precious points when Ben Heneghan’s header appeared to have crossed the goal line before being headed clear.
Moult’s ankle injury kept him out for only the second time since his four goal haul against Accies in September. However, with Jacob Blyth coming in for his first start of the season, ‘Well stuck to the same line-up and formation that proved successful at Ibrox.
And within five minutes, Blyth’s deflected shot had set up his strike partner with the perfect chance to open the scoring but from a couple of yards Ryan Bowman pulled the ball wide of the post.
Bowman turned provider eight minutes later when he ran onto Scott McDonald’s threaded pass but after laying the ball back to the edge of the box, Stephen Pearson screwed his drive off target.
Once again Chris Cadden was given the freedom to power down the right flank and, following another surging run, his low cross was smothered by Remi Matthews at Bowman’s feet.
Having weathered the early pressure, Accies came into the game and after 22 minutes Craig Samson produced his first save throwing himself across goal to palm away McKinnon’s dipping volley.
A couple of minutes later the ‘Well ‘keeper did extremely well to firmly hold a bouncing shot from Giannis Skondras with Alex D’Acol anticipating a slip up.
The Hamilton goal had a narrow escape on the half hour when Matthews left his line to claim Stevie Hammell’s long pass but ended with ‘keeper punching the ball narrowly past his own post.
Accies were even more fortunate from the resultant corner when Frear’s ball was powerfully met by Heneghan and his thumping header looked well over the line before D’Acol headed out and off the bar as ‘Well’s appeals for a goal were waved aside.
Seven minutes later McDonald’s header from two yards should have given Matthews no chance but the ‘keeper comfortably held the tame effort.
Just before the interval Samson had another fine save blocking Rakish Bingham’s powerful, angled drive. And within minutes of the restart it was repeated when Bingham’s header forced an early stop from the ‘Well ‘keeper.
As Motherwell struggled to find their rhythm, Keith Lasley replaced Craig Clay before Shea Gordon made his debut at Blyth’s expense. Within seconds the home side had created their first chance of the second half when Pearson’s ball back across the box found Frear and his half volley crept agonisingly just beyond the far post.
With 74 minutes played, ‘Well were given a one man advantage when McKinnon was shown a straight red card.
Openings were still rare, but when Ainsworth’s cross was back headed by Bowman over the advancing ‘keeper, the ball looked net bound until Sarris acrobatically scooped it clear.
With three minutes remaining, another Ainsworth ball into the box produced appeals for a penalty, but as play raced to the other end, Massimo Donati’s low shot was held by Samson as both side’s had to settle for a point each in their battle to beat the drop.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Hamilton Accies manager Martin Canning: