Steve Clarke believes the Hamilton supporters paid high-flying Kilmarnock the ultimate compliment – by celebrating their 1-1 draw like they had got a result against either Celtic or Rangers.
Killie were looking for the win which would have moved them up to second spot but instead find themselves sliding down to fourth after being held at the Hope Stadium.
Eamonn Brophy netted against his old side as he put Clarke’s men ahead seven minutes in.
But he went from hero to sinner nine minutes before the break when he handled inside the box to set up Mickel Miller’s equaliser from the penalty spot.
The left Clarke frustrated but he believes his team should be flattered by the scenes at full-time as the Accies faithful lapped up their point.
He said: “The biggest measure of progress was the way Hamilton supporters celebrated at the end.
“They celebrated as if they’d taken a point off the Old Firm.
“Maybe people are holding us in a different light and we have to be ready for those challenges.
“We started OK and got in front. We should have been better and got the second goal to kill game off. Hamilton do what they do well and make it scratchy and broken. The referee didn’t help. I thought he had swallowed his whistle he was blowing it so much.
“There were too many free-kicks that broke up the rhythm and it suited them more than it did us.”
Accies boss Martin Canning was pleased with the point despite seeing his side twice come close to a winner as Scott McMann rattled a post before Miller wasted a great chance in stoppage time.
“It was hard-fought point,” said Canning, whose side now sit just two points above the relegation zone following St Mirren’s win at Motherwell.
“You expect that when you play Kilmarnock. They started well, are high on confidence and going well at the top of the league. They scored early and we got through the period and ground it out.
“We got the goal then started the second half well and were unfortunate not to go ahead.
“The last 10 or 12 minutes the game got stretched and we couldn’t get support to our strikers. Killie didn’t create a lot then Mickel had a great chance and should have probably scored. You maybe wanted it on his left not his right.
“He just never caught it. A draw was probably a fair result but we haven’t got what we deserved at times earlier in the season.”