By Blair Meikle
Hamilton Accies manager Martin Canning had mixed feelings after his side’s 3-3 draw with Hearts. Canning praised their character to come back from 1-0 down but also expressed frustration that they could not hold on to a 3-1 lead.
Had they managed to preserve the winning position, they would have risen to sixth in the league, but have to make do with moving out of the play-off position and into 10th.
The teams did their best to raise temperatures by creating a thriller; a Rakish Bingham double as well as an Ali Crawford free-kick, had them in control after following behind to a Jamie Walker strike.
But Walker scored again from the spot and Callum Paterson earned Hearts a point.
Canning said: “It’s the same old story, but we performed reasonably well.
“To go a goal down, they showed character to come back and then to go 3-1 up. I wouldn’t expect us to lose points from there.
“That’s what I’ve just said to the players, we can’t keep saying we’re performing well but not winning games, because there will come a point this season when we’re not performing well. We need to pick up points when we’re playing well.”
A bright start from Hearts and Walker in particular, brought a goal after eight minutes.
The midfielder had been picking up space and was first to the ball when Bjorn Johnsen’s cross was only partially cleared. He then executed his half volley to perfection and guided it into the corner.
Hearts have been leaking goals recently and they looked shaky at the back once more. John Souttar was forced into a goal-line clearance after a mix up between himself and Walker, but shortly after they conceded an equaliser.
Crawford, so often his side’s star man, fired in a free kick from 25 yards that was too far in the bottom corner for Jack Hamilton to reach.
They could have gone in front shortly after but Crawford shot tamely at Hamilton.
It was end to end and Prince Buaben whipped a meaningful cross towards Johnsen whose header was kept out by Garry Woods.
Accies took the lead 13 seconds after the re-start, bursting forward straight from kick off without giving Hearts a touch. Massimo Donati’s dink was flicked on by Crawford and Rakish Bingham was onto it like a flash to finish.
Bingham was the man on target again to put daylight between the sides after 68 minutes. He accelerated in from the left before somehow managing to squeeze past Hamilton from a narrow angle.
Hearts threw on three subs in an attempt to haul themselves back; Conor Sammon, Faycal Rherras and Arnaud Djoum coming on for Johnsen, Buaben and Tony Watt.
With Accies heading for the top six, they self destructed and conceded a penalty five minutes later. Dan Seaborne slipped and took Don Cowie with him, while Walker joined Bingham on a double via the post.
The Jambos salvaged what had seemed like an unlikely point with four minutes remaining and Paterson underlined how much he will be missed should he move on in January.
The full-back is the club’s top scorer and he took his tally to seven for the season after being slipped in by Perry Kitchen.
There was still time for more drama after Crawford was booked for a hard challenge on Walker. Robbie Neilson felt the punishment should have been worse.
He said: “I thought it was a terrible tackle and there’s no place for it.
“We’re lucky Jamie wasn’t seriously injured.
“The referee’s not called it the way I thought it should be. I asked him his opinion on it and he said at the time he didn’t think it was, but we’ve reviewed it on the video and it wasn’t great.
“He’s one of our key players and teams target him, we know that and he has to take the hits. When the hits go overboard, it’s up to the referee to protect the players.”