Peter Hartley, it is fair to say, has had better days in a Motherwell jersey. At this festive time of year, the big defender played the role of old Saint Nick for Hamilton as he gift-wrapped them a route back into a match in which they had been trailing, but his spirit of goodwill ended with the final whistle.

Santa doesn’t usually deliver a forearm to your back after he’s filled up your stocking, but that’s what Hartley proceeded to administer to pantomime villain Dougie Imrie, who had attracted the ire of Motherwell keeper Trevor Carson for milking the full-time celebrations. Hartley appeared on his blind side and sent the Hamilton man sprawling to the deck, deservedly picking up a red card after the final whistle from referee Andrew Dallas to put the tin lid on a shocker of a day for the on-loan Blackpool man, who will now miss the Scottish Cup tie between the sides in January.

To be fair to Hartley, he has been excellent for Motherwell since his arrival at the club back on the last day of the summer transfer window, and he will be excused for this aberration by his manager. Others might not be so lucky.

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“It’s extremely uncharacteristic of Peter, and that we can forgive,” said a fiery Stephen Robinson after the match. “There’s certain things that happen over and over again with certain players that I can’t forgive, and if I keep saying the same things to people and they keep doing it, then it’s time to look at something else.

“With Peter it is a one-off, he is a leader. Sometimes when you are that aggressive to go and win balls, you make mistakes. We’ll forgive that.”

It was a day of farewells at Fir Park, as a fond adieu was bid to striker Louis Moult prior to kick-off, but he might not be the last through the exit door after this dismal Lanarkshire derby defeat left Motherwell without a win in nine. Hamilton's first derby win in eight came after Imrie’s penalty cancelled out Craig Tanner’s opener, and goals from Rakish Bingham and Greg Docherty in a second half in which Accies were superior sealed the three points.

“The reality is we didn’t look like scoring outside of Craig Tanner,” said Robinson.

“We know where our problems lie, the game should have been over in the first half.

“We had enough chances and enough ownership of the game, but in the second half we were really poor. Our decisions making was poor and our intensity was poor, and no matter how many balls went into the box we didn’t look like we were going to score because we didn’t anticipate things.

“I’m well aware of what we need to do, and I’ll get busy doing that as soon as I finish with you guys."

All of this of course shouldn’t take away from what was a fine, and ultimately deserved, win for Hamilton, who clawed their way back to end the year on a high. And it wasn’t even them to blame for the stramash after the whistle for once.

After marking the tenth anniversary since the tragic passing of club captain Phil O’Donnell with a moving minute’s applause, it was Motherwell who hit the front in the opening minutes.

Robinson had challenged his strikers to step up to the plate prior to the match, and Ryan Bowman showed nifty footwork down the left before crossing low to the near post where Tanner was arriving to finish high into the net from close range.

That combination almost grabbed a second soon afterwards, as Bowman again got free before feeding the ball into Tanner, but this time his effort skimmed the side-netting.

The chances that Motherwell missed ultimately came back to bite them, and while Hamilton took a while to muster a response, they were ruthless when literally handed a way back into the match.

Hartley flung himself in front of an Ali Crawford shot, but the ball struck the defender’s outstretched arm, and a spot-kick was awarded. Imrie swept the ball home low to Trevor Carson’s left, and from there, there only looked to be one winner.

Shortly after the restart, Hartley sliced a simple clearance into the path of Bingham, who you didn’t fancy with so much time to think about his finish. In fairness to him though, the striker raced through on goal before slotting coolly under Carson.

Hartley then caught a high ball that he thought had gone out but was in fact still clearly in play as his head appeared to have gone, but the defender escaped a second caution and a dismissal. Temporarily at least.

Hamilton were dropping deeper as they hung on to their advantage, but Docherty produced a moment of magic to end the game with a quarter of an hour remaining. Picking the ball up in midfield, the Accies man showed pace and power as he breezed away from Stevie Hammell before shooting low across Carson and into the net to send the visiting supporters wild.

Then, after the final whistle, it all kicked off. But fittingly, it was left to Imrie, to have the final word.

“I didn’t see what happened at the end, so we move on,” he said, less than convincingly.

“We came here to do our job and, if they have anything to say, that’s up to them. I’ve no comment to make on that.

“We’re entitled to go and celebrate with our fans at the end and that’s all I was doing. Listen, I could go into a million things but let’s not make it silly. We got what we came for. 

“We’ve finished the year on a high, the three points take us nearer to the top six and closer to the teams above us. Our first game back after the break is against them in the Scottish Cup so it sets that up nicely as well.

“I love these types of games but it’s a derby and you’ve got to be up for the fight or you’re beaten before it even starts. We were shaky at the start but after that every man stood up to be counted.

“We got back into it with the penalty but, in the second half, we were different class.”

MOTHERWELL: Carson; Tait, Kipre, Hartley, Hammell: Bigirimana, Campbell (Grimshaw, 44’); Rose (Fisher, 61’), Tanner, Newell (MacLean, 73’); Bowman.

Scorers: Tanner (3’)

Booked: Hartley (41’), Hammell (88’)

HAMILTON: Woods; Gogic, Tomas, McMann; Docherty, MacKinnon, Donati (Lyon, 58’), Crawford (Redmond, 81’), Imrie; Templeton (Cunningham, 89’), Bingham.

Scorers: Imrie (pen. 41’), Bingham (53’), Docherty (76’)

Booked: Tomas (37’), Donati (51’)