Rangers denied victory after Callachan’s last-gasp Hamilton equaliser
Rangers’ title countdown clock remains at six wins from glory after Steven Gerrard’s team allowed Ross Callachan to rescue a 1-1 draw for Hamilton with the last kick of the match.
The runaway Premiership leaders put in one of their worst displays of the campaign yet looked to have snatched the points with Brian Easton’s own goal 10 minutes from time.
But Hamilton – who had been foiled umpteen times by an inspired Allan McGregor – refused to give up and hit back in the fifth minute of stoppage time to claim a precious point.
The result will not alter the eventual destination of the title with Rangers still 21 points ahead at the top but it could prove vital to Brian Rice’s basement team, who trimmed the deficit on Ross County back to three.
Gerrard chose to start Kemar Roofe – who faces a potential two-game ban for his studs-up challenge on Murray Davidson – on the bench as Cedric Itten started up top. Bongani Zungu came in for his first Rangers league start along with Glen Kamara as Ryan Jack and Steven Davis were also given a rest.
Accies made just one change to the team who lost their relegation battle with Ross County as Charlie Trafford replaced Ben Stirling. With an Arctic blast whipping around Foys Stadium, there was an added dimension to the usual difficulties in controlling the ball on Accies’ unpredictable plastic pitch.
It was quickly clear the hosts would not endure the indignation of another eight-goal thrashing like they did the last time they faced the Premiership leaders in November. If anything, they were unlucky not to find themselves in front at the break.
Bruce Anderson saw a deflected shot squirm wide after Marios Ogkmpoe’s clever back-heel 12 minutes in. It would take until 10 minutes before the break for something else of note to occur, with Joe Aribo driving past Callachan before curling a left-foot effort just wide.
But Rangers’ centre-backs had McGregor to thank moments later. Goldson did Filip Helander no favours with his loose pass across the box. Anderson nicked possession as the big Swede struggled to tame the ball on the stretch but the keeper bailed out his defenders by blocking with his legs.
Rangers did have a couple of late chances before the break but it was not enough to spare them the inevitable half-time rocket from Gerrard, with only McGregor and Itten deserving of pass marks at the break.
Whatever was said almost produced an immediate result as Ryan Kent raced on to Helander’s long pass before slamming into the side netting. The excellent Jamie Hamilton then put in two vital blocks to deny Kent as Rangers applied further pressure.
But the visitors continued to give Accies encouragement and they should have fallen behind on 54 minutes. James Tavernier was robbed by Callachan before Scott McMann brought out a fine stop from McGregor. Callachan pounced on the rebound but again the veteran Ibrox goalkeeper proved his quality with another big block.
Rangers were looking uncharacteristically slack at the back, with McGregor making a fourth save as he then turned away another Anderson strike. When Gerrard’s team did play their way through Hamilton’s determined press with a quarter of an hour left thanks to substitute Jack’s superb pass, Kent fired wide.
But again Rangers had McGregor to thank as he brilliantly pushed away Callachan’s free-kick after Helander was forced to take a booking as Hamilton threatened to burst through on goal.
Yet it appeared Hamilton would get nothing for their efforts as Rangers struck with 10 minutes left.
The introduction of Davis gave the visitors some extra guile in midfield and it was his defence-splitting pass that put Borna Barisic in behind Hamilton’s cross, with Easton the unfortunate man who bundled into his own net.
Rice’s team continued to press and got their rewards as Callachan pounced on another fine McGregor save from an Anderson strike to claim the equaliser.