Steelmen stand firm in draw

Stuart McCall's first game as Motherwell manager ended in a 0-0 draw at Hamilton, but at least his team stemmed a three-match losing streak.

Last Updated: 01/01/11 at 17:39

Randolph: Kept clean sheet

Randolph: Kept clean sheet

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McCall's team survived some late first half pressure from Scottish Premier League bottom club Hamilton with Dougie Imrie testing Darren Randolph from long range.

But Motherwell began to take control and hit the woodwork after Tomas Cerny failed to hold Jamie Murphy's effort, although Imrie missed an excellent late chance.

Motherwell lacked punch up front but McCall would at least have been encouraged by the gradual improvement while Hamilton's problems are clear as they failed to score for the fourth consecutive match to leave them five points adrift.

McCall restored Nick Blackman to a familiar 4-4-2 formation with Marc Fitzpatrick dropping out following the 1-0 defeat at Celtic, which followed losses to Hearts and Rangers.

The former Bradford manager was missing Steve Jennings, who was sitting in the stands as he served the final match of his suspension following his red card against Hearts, which is at the centre of a Scottish Football Association investigation after bookmakers reported unusual betting patterns.

The referee who sent Jennings off, Stevie O'Reilly, was in charge at New Douglas Park but kept the cards to a minimum with Jim Goodwin and Simon Mensing booked for Hamilton and Tom Hateley cautioned for the visitors.

Hamilton made three changes following their 1-0 defeat by Aberdeen with Gary McDonald, Flavio Paixao and Jordan Kirkpatrick coming in.

Hamilton's last win came against Motherwell in October while the visitors had not won since November 10 against St Johnstone, and neither side looked confident going forward in an uneventful opening half hour.

Motherwell had a slight edge in possession and territory but McDonald produced the first shot on target in the 18th minute when he fired in a powerful low drive from 25 yards that was held by Randolph.

The game livened up around the half hour mark. Motherwell skipper Stephen Craigan volleyed just wide from 18 yards following a corner before Hamilton twice came close within 60 seconds.

Imrie worked space 30 yards out before arrowing a strike towards the bottom corner, but Randolph got a strong hand to the ball to divert it wide.

Paixao soon stood up a cross to the back post for McDonald, but it was inches too high and the midfielder headed just off target.

Cerny then made his first save when he got down well to hold Blackman's drive from the edge of the box.

Imrie was improving after a shaky start and he sent over an excellent cross for Paixao, who looped a header on to the roof of the net.

Hamilton pushed in the final stages of the half with Randolph pushing over Imrie's 30-yard free-kick and Mensing glancing Paixao's corner just past the far post.

Blackman shot harmlessly over after an initially promising counter-attack but Accies continued to have the edge, although their efforts were all coming from long range.

Paixao and Kirkpatrick, twice, could not keep their efforts down and Randolph twice saved comfortably from Imrie.

McCall made two substitutions before the hour mark, swapping John Sutton for the below-par Alan Gow and introducing Fitzpatrick after Steven Saunders injured a hamstring.

Accies almost capitalised but Paixao could not get enough on the a cross and Goodwin's driven follow-up was cleared.

Motherwell gradually began to push Hamilton back and they hit the woodwork in the 71st minute.

Keith Lasley's pass took out Hamilton left-back David Buchanan and allowed Jamie Murphy space to fire in a low cross that Cerny palmed on to the bar.

Craigan headed the resulting corner just over and Motherwell continued to press but Hamilton almost snatched a winner with two minutes left.

Gavin Skelton's instant pass put Imrie clear but he shot wide of the far post from 18 yards.

McCall suffered a blow in the final stages when on-loan Blackburn forward Blackman limped off with what looked like a groin injury.

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