Hamilton Accies won at Fir Park for the first time in the Premier League but the game was once again marred, sadly, by bizarre refereeing decisions.
Accies had taken the lead through Nigel Hasselbaink, the striker doing superbly well to turn and score from the edge of the area after just fifteen minutes.
Motherwell would push and push for an equaliser but were on the end of some debateable calls from match official Craig Thomson.
The first; a failure to take any action against Martin Canning despite the defender denying Nick Blackman what looked like a clear goal scoring opportunity when he was brought down for a penalty. The second, as the game was nearing its climax, was a handball on the line by Dougie Imrie after Alan Gow had got on the end of a Ross Forbes cross.
It made for an intensely frustrating afternoon for the Steelmen and brings to an end a run of three successive home victories.
Motherwell made just one change from the midweek success against Dundee United. Ross Forbes started in place of the injured Jamie Murphy who narrowly missed out with an ankle injury.
The visitors started much the brighter and took only two minutes to threaten when Dougie Imrie came within an inch of putting his side one up. The former Inverness man whipped in a terrific free-kick that missed everyone and somehow dropped wide of the post. An early let-off for Brown’s men no doubt!
Two minutes later, pint-sized Hasselbaink got on the end of a Flavio Paixao cross from the right to header over. The post-mortem was quick to follow amongst the ‘Well defender at just how the 5ft 6 striker managed to win the header in a populated six yard box.
It was end-to-end stuff and both teams were trading chances. Simon Mensing fired way wide after being set-up by a terrific Paixao through ball, and, for Motherwell, Nick Blackman got the better of Canning before firing high over the bar.
The chances would eventually lead to a goal and it was the visitors who would take the lead. Hasselbaink, who had earlier missed a header, picked up the ball on the edge of the area. Turning Ross Forbes, he flashed a curling shot in off the far post for 1-0.
Accies followed that with a long range free-kick from Paixao that was comfortable for Randolph to pluck out the air. Five minutes later, they again threatened with Paixao somehow managed to squeeze past Hammell on the flank and his cutback fell kindly for Mensing but his deflected effort was well saved by Randolph at the second attempt.
Hamilton were doing an efficient job in nullifying the Motherwell threat and, at the same time hitting on the counter. They almost made it two-nil when a Paixao corner from the left drifted all the way to Jim Goodwin at the back post but the defender could only slice way over the bar.
The game descended into a midfield scrap with both teams guilty of being slack in possession. It would be Brown’s men who would threaten next. Left-back Hammell robbed Paixao on the flank and, striding forward, he unleashed a shot that flew over Cerny’s bar. The Steelmen veteran probably had better options but with six and a half years since his last ‘Well goal, few could blame the 28-year-old.
Five minutes before the break came the game-changing call from the referee. Chris Humphrey did well to dribble past McLaughlin and get to the byline. His pulled-back pass was perfect for Blackman who had an easy tap in but, before he could, he was crudely pushed by Martin Canning and referee Thomson rightly pointed to the spot. Incredibly though, no further action was taken against the former Gretna man despite clearly denying a goal scoring opportunity.
Worse was to follow as Tom Hateley’s spot kick was expertly saved by Tomas Cerny low to his right hand post.
Into the second half and it took about fifteen minutes for either side to threaten and it was ‘Well who should’ve got level. Ross Forbes’ lovely teed up ball found Alan Gow all alone inside the box but his header was somehow bundled off the line by the arm of Imrie. How much he knew about it is up for debate but it most certainly hit his arm on the line and it stopped the ball going into the net. Decision from the referee… Corner!
‘Well went closer still when Saunders headed a Hateley header off the post.
Down the other end, Accies were content to sit in but had a rare venture up the park when Dougie Imrie fired a free-kick just over Randolph’s bar.
The remaining quarter of an hour was spent with the Steelmen camped in Accies half but despite good chances for Forbes and Hateley from free-kick’s, and a succession of corners, all of which cleared by the packed Accies defence, Motherwell couldn’t find an equaliser.
Referee Thomson brought the game to an end with just four minutes of injury time, itself bizarrely short give the amount of time the game had to be stopped. A chorus of boos filled Fir Park – how much of that was directed at the match officials was anyone’s guess.
[tab:As it happened]
90+4 FULL TIME The referee brings the game to a close.
90+3 Corner from left by-line taken by Ross Forbes.
90+1 Foul by Mark McLaughlin on Nick Blackman, free kick awarded. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Tom Hateley, save by Tomas Cerny.
90+1 BOOKING Mark McLaughlin shown a yellow card.
89′ Foul by Jonathon Routledge on Chris Humphrey, free kick awarded. Ross Forbes has an effort direct from the free kick.
88′ Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes from the left by-line to the near post, Alex Neil manages to make a clearance.
86′ Corner taken right-footed by Flavio Paixao, save by Darren Randolph. Long range effort by Mark McLaughlin goes harmlessly over the bar.
86′ Marco Paixao takes a shot. Mark Reynolds gets a block in.
84′ SUB Damian Casalinuovo is brought on as a substitute for Douglas Imrie.
80′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Ross Forbes on Flavio Paixao. Martin Canning takes the free kick.
80′ BOOKING Booking for Alex Neil.
80′ BOOKING Ross Forbes goes into the book.
78′ Corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes from the left by-line, Flavio Paixao manages to make a clearance.
77′ The assistant referee signals for offside against Flavio Paixao. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
77′ SUB Motherwell makes a substitution, with Robert McHugh coming on for Alan Gow.
75′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Marco Paixao by Mark Reynolds. Douglas Imrie has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.
74′ Outswinging corner taken by Ross Forbes from the left by-line played to the near post, Tomas Cerny makes a save.
73′ Corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes to the near post, clearance made by David Elebert.
72′ SUB John Sutton is brought on as a substitute for Steven Saunders.
71′ SUB Marco Paixao replaces Nigel Hasselbaink.
69′ Martin Canning concedes a free kick for a foul on Nick Blackman. Tom Hateley crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, save made by Tomas Cerny.
69′ BOOKING Martin Canning is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
66′ David Buchanan fouled by Chris Humphrey, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Tomas Cerny.
66′ SUB Alex Neil replaces Jim Goodwin.
65′ The offside flag is raised against Steven Saunders. Tomas Cerny takes the direct free kick.
64′ Unfair challenge on Chris Humphrey by David Buchanan results in a free kick. Ross Forbes delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel.
64′ The assistant referee flags for offside against Nigel Hasselbaink. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
62′ Unfair challenge on Ross Forbes by Jim Goodwin results in a free kick. Stevie Hammell takes the direct free kick.
60′ Mark McLaughlin fouled by Tom Hateley, the ref awards a free kick. David Elebert restarts play with the free kick.
59′ Foul by Steven Saunders on Douglas Imrie, free kick awarded. David Elebert takes the free kick.
58′ Corner taken by Chris Humphrey from the right by-line, Martin Canning manages to make a clearance.
58′ Alan Gow takes a shot. Clearance made by Douglas Imrie.
55′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Simon Mensing by Ross Forbes. Tomas Cerny restarts play with the free kick.
55′ Corner taken by Ross Forbes from the left by-line, clearance made by Simon Mensing. Chris Humphrey takes the outswinging corner, Martin Canning manages to make a clearance.
53′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Mark McLaughlin on Alan Gow. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
53′ Steven Saunders gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Douglas Imrie. Free kick taken by Tomas Cerny.
52′ Corner from the right by-line taken by Chris Humphrey, Mark McLaughlin makes a clearance.
50′ Martin Canning fouled by Alan Gow, the ref awards a free kick. Martin Canning takes the direct free kick.
49′ Foul by Douglas Imrie on Tom Hateley, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
47′ Nigel Hasselbaink concedes a free kick for a foul on Steve Jennings. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
45′ KICK OFF The referee gets the second half started.
45+2 HALF TIME
45+1 Alan Gow gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Douglas Imrie. Flavio Paixao restarts play with the free kick.
45+1 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tom Hateley on Douglas Imrie. Tomas Cerny takes the direct free kick.
44′ Placed penalty taken by Tom Hateley saved by Tomas Cerny. Motherwell 0-1 Hamilton.
43′ PENALTY awarded for a foul by Martin Canning on Nick Blackman.
39′ Stevie Hammell produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
38′ Ross Forbes takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Flavio Paixao.
37′ Douglas Imrie concedes a free kick for a foul on Tom Hateley. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
32′ Corner taken by Flavio Paixao, Effort on goal by Jim Goodwin from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
28′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Jim Goodwin on Tom Hateley. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
25′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nigel Hasselbaink by Ross Forbes. Jim Goodwin takes the free kick.
23′ Shot by Simon Mensing. Darren Randolph makes a comfortable save.
21′ The referee blows for offside against Nigel Hasselbaink. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
19′ Mark McLaughlin challenges Nick Blackman unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Tom Hateley from the free kick.
19′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Mark McLaughlin on Nick Blackman. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
17′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Douglas Imrie by Steve Jennings. Flavio Paixao has an effort direct from the free kick, save byTomas Cerny.
14′ Assist by Martin Canning.
14′ GOAL – Nigel Hasselbaink: Motherwell 0 – 1 Hamilton A goal is scored by Nigel Hasselbaink from just inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal.
11′ Mark McLaughlin takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
11′ Ross Forbes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Simon Mensing. Martin Canning takes the free kick.
10′ Nick Blackman takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.
9′ Simon Mensing produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the net.
9′ Ross Forbes takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Flavio Paixao.
7′ Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Steven Saunders misses to the left of the goal.
6′ Tom Hateley fouled by Jim Goodwin, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
6′ The offside flag is raised against Nigel Hasselbaink. Stevie Hammell takes the free kick.
4′ The ball is crossed by Flavio Paixao, Header from deep inside the area by Nigel Hasselbaink goes over the bar.
3′ Corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes, Martin Canning manages to make a clearance.
2′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Douglas Imrie by Steven Saunders. Free kick crossed right-footed by Flavio Paixao from left wing.
2′ Foul by Steven Saunders on Douglas Imrie, free kick awarded. Flavio Paixao takes the free kick.
1′ KICK OFF The match begins.
Motherwell boss Craig Brown:
“Hamilton are a team up for the occasion and they battled well. You can’t start as badly as we did and expect to win derby matches.
“When you miss a penalty and don’t play well, it’s a mountain to climb in the second half. I felt we were likely to score, but quite clearly, we didn’t – and good credit to the Hamilton defence.
“This club is respectful of referees and will never criticise the referee publicly. If I spoke to the referee personally, I would say something – but I have no intention of getting involved, because the referees are under enough pressure.
“Public statements to the media doesn’t help the situation, so I would rather not get involved in any controversy at all and give my wholehearted support to the refereeing regime in Scotland, which I think is very good.”
Hamilton manager Billy Reid:
“I’m delighted with three points. I thought we started well, we made a couple of chances and scored a fantastic goal.
“But in the second half, we had so many leads, then we seemed to freeze. The second half was horrible – Motherwell pinned us back and they almost got the breakthrough.
“We hung on; we’ve played really well in recent weeks so I felt we deserved something – and we got three points.
“It’s not pretty at times, it’s not exactly how I want to play, but the most important thing when you’re scrapping for points is to pick up three points.
“In weeks before, we’ve played much better football and got nothing. Today, we ground it out and got three points.”