Two second half goals from Aaron McGowan and David Moyo earned Hamilton a derby day win over Motherwell.
Christopher Long had given Motherwell the perfect start, opening the scoring after five minutes, Motherwell looked on target to end the year on a high and claim their sixth win from the last seven games.
However, Lanarkshire derbies have proved unpredictable, and after dominating the first half hour the Fir Park men lost their way in the second half as Accies pressed from the restart to deservedly take all three points.
After shuffling his pack for the trip to Dingwall on Thursday, Stephen Robinson made three changes for the final match before the winter break.
Liam Grimshaw was restored to full back, with Bevis Mugabi replacing Peter Hartley in the centre of the defence. Up front, Long had recovered to lead the line with James Scott and Jermaine Hylton on either side of the striker.
Despite having a tough game on Boxing Day, Accies stood by the same starting 11 as the South Lanarkshire side searched for some points to ease their relegation worries.
Within the first three minutes both teams had conjured up openings, Liam Polworth’s bouncing effort deflected past the post before Moyo’s fluffed shot from four yards went straight into Mark Gillespie’s arms.
The opening goal was on its way, though, and with five minutes on the clock ‘Well took the advantage.
Jake Carroll’s ball down the left channel presented Long with nothing more than the chance of holding the ball up at the edge of the box. However, with a bit of pace and strength he forced his way around Sam Stubbs before firing a low shot across Luke Southwood’s and inside the ‘keeper’s left- hand post for a great solo effort.
The early lead gave the Steelmen confidence and some of their passing was slick although without a final product. That should have changed after 16 minutes when another series of passes ended with Long’s cut back for Polworth but his drive was straight at the ‘keeper.
Two minutes later Long came close to claiming a double when he outpaced Stubbs only to nudge the ball past the advancing Southwood and the post.
Although he had shown some clever footwork earlier in the half, Mugabi’s clumsy challenge on Scott Martin at the edge of the box gave Accies a real chance of grabbing an equaliser. Disappointingly, for the visitor’s Mickel Miller whipped his free kick high into the Davie Cooper stand.
Having been on the back foot for most of the opening half hour, Hamilton had a bit more presence around Gillespie’s area. In the 34th minute the ‘Well ‘keeper had to race through a packed box to punch away Stubbs’ header across goal.
‘Well needed a second goal to kill Accies’ enthusiasm and a terrific run from James Scott almost provided that. Racing from the halfway line down the left touchline, his cross picked out Hylton inside the six yard box but his header sent the ball into the side netting.
On the stroke of half-time another swift break from the home side ended with Scott blasting the ball high over as ‘Well’s fabulous start to the half petered out.
The second half started with the Fir Park men defending in depth as Accies pressed for an equaliser. Twice in the opening six minutes Miller had chances heading wide before drilling a shot narrowly wide of Gillespie’s overworked goal.
A handball at the other end provided ‘Well with a free kick 30 yards from goal. After his wonderful strike against Kilmarnock Jake Carroll looked favourite but instead Mark O’Hara tried his luck but his effort bounced wide.
With Motherwell hemmed in their own half only a wonderful save from Gillespie after 53 minutes denied Accies an equaliser. Moyo’s thumping drive was dipping under the bar until the ‘Well ‘keeper stretched and twisted to turn the ball over his crossbar.
At this stage the Fir Park players looked a shadow of the confident side from the first half as they carelessly conceded possession allowing Hamilton plenty of the ball in and around the home box.
After 63 minutes Hylton’s trip on Aaron McGowan at the edge of the box presented Accies with yet another opening. And although Brian Easton blasted the free kick high and wide, Stephen Robinson had seen enough to make a double substitution bringing on Sherwin Seedorf to provide an out ball and Peter Hartley to bolster the defence.
The changes had little effect as Accies deservedly equalised four minutes later. Moyo nodded the ball down to Aaron McGowan and his low drive from 20 yards took a slight deflection to steer the ball inside Gillespie’s left-hand post.
That goal sparked some life into the home ranks and Carroll, now more advanced on the left, headed Grimshaw’s deep cross wide of goal.
As both sides chased a winning goal play raged from end to end and the Accies’ fans behind Gillespie’s goal thought Martin had hit one from 30 yards but his shot flew wide.
However, the Hamilton fans were on their feet in the 76 minute to celebrate the winning goal when Moyo rose high in the six yard box to nod McGowan’s cross beyond Gillespie to make it 2-1.
That forced ‘Well’s final change, with Ross MacIver, replacing Polworth for the final 10 minutes.
The youngster was hoping to repeat his debut goal at Dingwall but the nearest MacIver and ‘Well came to an equaliser was his injury time header into Southwood’s grateful hands.