MARTIN Canning, the Hamilton Academical captain, has endured a degree of sleep deprivation following the recent birth of his son, Noah, and it seems there may be a few restless nights ahead for anyone with an interest in the SPFL Championship title race.
Canning's goal was enough to give Hamilton the lead against an improving Queen of the South side but there was a sense of frustration when striker Gavin Reilly's equaliser denied them the win that would have taken them back to the top of the table.
"It's my first - and probably last - of the season if my scoring form at the club is anything to go by," said the Hamilton centre-back of his headed opening goal, which arrived with 56 minutes played on Saturday. "I usually seem to manage one a season. Ever since my wife Jude gave birth to our third boy a month ago, I've been saying I must get a goal for him so I'm delighted to have done that."
Loading article content
Palmerston came alive early in the second half with a goal at either end inside seven minutes, after two hardworking midfield units had cancelled each other out before the break.
The home side had come closest to breaking the deadlock, only to be denied twice by the woodwork as first Reilly and then Iain Russell tested the frame.
At the other end in Hamilton's best chance, French midfielder Anthony Andreu let fly with a dangerous looping shot from 30 yards which goalkeeper Zander Clark confidently turned over his crossbar.
Alex Neil's side emerged aggressively after half-time and pinned back Queen of the South, almost going in front when another stinging shot from the boot of Andreu was deflected wide. However, the opener came from the resulting corner; Canning finding space in a crowded box to rise well and head home James Keatings' delivery.
Queens of the South proved their resilience, though, and pulled level after some indecision in the Hamilton defence gave Reilly time to slam left-back Kevin Holt's cross into the net.
That equaliser made for an exciting last quarter, with Kevin Cuthbert's fingertip save from Reilly and Clark's one-handed stop from Mickael Antoine-Curier the pick of a number of fine unconverted chances at both ends.
Despite his side's failure to move ahead of Dundee in the title race - level on 49 points, but with the Taysiders having a game in hand - Canning remains upbeat about Hamilton's Championship prospects. "I think it will go all the way," he said. "We've just got to concentrate on ourselves and try to win as many games as possible. [Palmerston] is a difficult place to come and sometimes you've got to take what you can get and move on to the next game. There will still be plenty of twists and turns. Teams will drop points and win games before the title is decided."
Jim McIntyre, the Queen of the South manager, said: "I thought we were the better side, especially in the first half so I'm disappointed we weren't more ruthless. However, we did well to get the equaliser and full credit to the boys."