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Hailton Academical 1 Dundee 1: A decision to ponder but no decider as top pair keep it even

IT WAS billed in some quarters as a title decider but nothing was settled as the Championship's two top sides ended all square at New Douglas Park.

Dundee celebrate with goalscorer Martin Boyle Photograph: SNS
Dundee celebrate with goalscorer Martin Boyle Photograph: SNS

The only winners after this tense, all-action battle were Falkirk, who have re-emerged as genuine contenders.

Martin Boyle's controversial opener for Dundee, rightly awarded by referee Willie Collum, was cancelled out by former Dens striker Mickael Antoine-Curier in a game neither side deserved to lose.

Accies still hold the slenderest of advantages by dint of having scored more goals. Player-manager Alex Neil said: "I thought if any team was going to win it would be us.

"We're disappointed not to get three points but after going behind and with our record against them we'd have taken a draw at half-time.

"Before the game the title was in our hands and we wanted it still to be in our hands after the game - and it is.

"Winning four games is going to be difficult for any team but we'll put all our efforts into it."

Hamilton, desperate for their first win of the campaign against Dundee, looked keener in the tackle during the lively opening exchanges.

But they found the Dark Blues defence in typically resilient mood, restricting their rivals to a series of half-chances.

The first of them saw Ali Crawford whip in a free kick from the left and James Keatings' glancing header flashed wide.

After 12 minutes Darian Mackinnon released Tony Andreu in the box and the Frenchman's shot bulged the side netting from a tight angle.

Andreu was almost in again thanks to a neat flick by Louis Longridge but his effort was blocked by Declan Gallagher.

Dundee were rarely seen in the home box and when they were Martin Canning showed all his experience, firstly to halt Nicky Riley's wriggling run and then calmly chesting Boyle's dangerous cross to Kevin Cuthbert.

The Dark Blues had their first shot on goal in 24 minutes when Jim McAlister's volley flew wide.

At the other end Crawford's inswinging corner had Kyle Letheren at full stretch before the visitors went ahead in controversial fashion.

Hamilton thought they had done the hard work when their wall blocked Peter MacDonald's 25 yard free kick.

However, the ball was quickly returned into the box by Willie Dyer for Kevin McBride to flick forward. Boyle, looking suspiciously offside, reacted and gave Cuthbert no chance.

Accies were incensed there had been no flag against Boyle and that Lee Kilday was lying injured while the goal was scored. Kilday, though off the park, was deemed to be active thanks to legislation brought in after Euro 2008.

The restart brought early alarm for Accies. Davidson glanced Gavin Rae's volley inches wide but then the hosts might have levelled when Mackinnon fired narrowly over.

Dundee went closer to a second when Boyle's stinging shot forced a superb Cuthbert save.

Hamilton were still in it and quickly went close twice, but their persistence paid off midway through the half.

Longridge made space on the left and his cross found Mickael Antoine Curier who - perhaps with the aid of a nudge - got the better of fellow substitute Adam Cummins to head home.

Neil added: "The goal we conceded was unusual and we felt their player was offside but the referee explained that our boy was deemed to be active even though he was lying off the park."

Dundee manager Paul Hartley said: "It was a frantic game with so much at stake and both teams had a go. We're delighted with our game-plan. I thought we were resolute and didn't look like losing a goal.

"Our player felt he was pushed before their goal but we'll look at the DVD before saying anything."

With Falkirk celebrating the stalemate, Hartley added: "There are three teams in the title race."

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