Ten-man Motherwell’s brave show earned them a valuable point which allowed them to reclaim third spot in Ladbrokes Premiership.
Bucking the trend from midweek, the team put on a masterclass in denying Hamilton any real goal opportunities after Christopher Long was ordered off eight minutes from half-time.
And after some highly organised and committed defending to protect Mark Gillespie, the best chances to claim all three points came ‘Well’s way in the latter stages of an evenly contested game.
Motherwell were looking to take the positives from their second half performance in the midweek defeat to St Mirren. Conversely, Stephen Robinson was hoping that his side erased the defensive lapses that ultimately cost them a place in the last eight of the Scottish Cup.
With that in mind and partially due to Jake Carroll’s horrible Achilles injury, ‘Well reverted to a central back three of a fit again Declan Gallagher, Liam Donnelly and Peter Hartley. A five-man midfield meant that Christopher Long, back from a thigh injury was partnered in attack with Tony Watt.
The swirling wind around the Fountain of Youth stadium provided a challenge for both sets of players on an otherwise perfect-looking 4G pitch.
To their credit both teams quickly adapted to the elements and after three minutes Mark Gillespie produced his first save.
David Moyo slipped the ball through to Accies on-form striker Marios Ogkmpoe who tried to dink the ball past the advancing ‘keeper. But Gillespie stood firm to block the ball with his feet.
Some mazy runs on the right from Rolando Aarons stretched the Accies defenders. The only opening came after 13 minutes when his cutback found Long at the corner of the six yard but his sclaffed shot rolled into Luke Southwood’s hands.
Then from Aarons’ inswinging corner, Watt laid the ball back to Polworth but his 18 yard drive was straight at the Hamiton ‘keeper.
A poor pass from David Templeton sent Long scampering towards the Accies box but from wide on the right he screwed his shot across goal and well wide of target.
The ‘Well striker then picked up a needless yellow card when he kicked the ball away near the Accies corner flag. That was to prove costly for the former Everton man who continued to look a frustrated figure.
Not unexpectedly then, Long was shown a second yellow card eight minutes from the break for a lunge at Templeton, leaving ‘Well down to 10 men for over 50 minutes.
Accies almost turned their numerical advantage into the opening goal two minutes from the interval. Johnny Hunt lifted the ball over Gillespie to find Moyo lurking at the back post but the Hamilton striker headed over the bar when it looked easier to score.
‘Well re-gigged their line-up at half-time, Richard Tait forming a back four and Aarons moving in from the wing to provide more support for Watt.
The first action of the half was at the other end where where Ogkmpoe’s turn and drive from the edge of the box forced Gillespie into a comfortable diving save.
Allan Campbell then worked his way to the byline before crossing towards the six-yard area. Despite having defenders on either shoulder, Watt managed to head the ball down towards goal but again it was a comfortable save for Southwood.
In an attempt to stretch 10 man ‘Well, Hamilton made a couple of substitutions before the hour mark.
‘Well then made their first change after 66 minutes when Watt, who is regaining his match fitness and looking sharper with every passing game, was relieved of his duties with Ross MacIver taking over the thankless striker’s role.
The Steelmen remained stout in defending with Accies having plenty of possession but posing very very little threat to Gillespie.
With 15 minutes remaining and thoughts of stealing a winner Jermaine Hylton replaced Aarons. Five minutes later the Fir Park side passed up their best chance of finding a winner.
Polworth’s free kick found Gallagher completely unmarked just beyond the six-yard area, but after taking a touch the defender’s shot was well blocked by Alex Gogic’s desperate lunge.
As Accies ran out of ideas it was the visitor’s who looked more likely to unlock the defences as the game moved into four minutes additional time.
And urged on by the 1200 ‘Well fans behind Southwood’s goal, the Steelmen came closest to claiming all three points.
The better chance came Polworth’s way when Donnelly’s well measured pass spilt the home defence but Southwood raced from his line to brilliantly block the angled drive.
Then, with Accies pinned in their own box, Donnelly’s long throw was nodded on by Gallagher only to see Hylton’s hitch-kick volley the ball over the bar from 20 yards.
The point was enough to leapfrog Aberdeen, with the opportunity to strengthen their hold on third place when St Mirren visit Fir Park on Tuesday night.