DARIAN MacKinnon has defended Hamilton Academical from jibes that they are overly physical after Saturday’s win over Ross County became the latest in a string of fiery Premiership clashes for Martin Canning’s side.

Accies clinched a crucial three points late on at the SuperSeal Stadium to move four points clear of the drop zone, but the result was marred by a touchline melee in stoppage time that saw Ioannis Skondras sent off for throwing a punch.

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon complained of being ‘kicked all over the park’ following last month’s draw at the SuperSeal Stadium before police waded in to break up a large-scale scuffle at Tynecastle on 2 December, an incident sparked by MacKinnon’s altercation with Hearts assistant Austin MacPhee.

But MacKinnon, who was one of five Hamilton players to be booked during his side’s 3-2 victory against the Staggies, believes his side are right to make their presence felt, although he admitted that his teammate crossed a line with his red card offence.

“I think at Hearts they were the more physical with more fouls and more bookings,” he said.

“With the fracas at the side, it was MacPhee who grabbed my arm and fell to try and get me sent off.

“We were innocent on the day there and maybe (today) it’s 50/50 how it’s kicked off. If your team has done something wrong, you put your hands up, but I think the two of them were at it there.

“I don’t mind a bit of needle, but you obviously don’t want to be going around punching people, you don’t want to get a reputation for that.

“You want to get stuck in and let people know they’re in a game because that’s the way you need to play in this league.”

Accies full-back Georgios Sarris and Kenny van der Weg of Ross County were both booked for their involvement in the fracas but the combative midfielder was happy to see Hamilton players rush to the aid of their teammate, admitting that he would have been more involved himself were it not for the yellow card he picked up 10 minutes earlier.

“I was choking to (be in the thick of it), but I’d already been booked so I knew I’d be off,” he said.

“It was just a bit of madness, I don’t mind that, but I think a couple of punches were thrown. I didn’t see much, I was just trying to get the boys out of the road for a change.”

He added: “You need to get right in there because they flew in, we flew in and you don’t want your mate to be left alone. If I hadn’t been booked I probably would’ve been right in the thick of it but I used my brain for once.”

Accies have thrown away more points from winning positions than any other side in the Scottish top-flight this season and threatened to add to that unwanted record as County fought back from behind twice in the second half.

Jamie Lindsay’s late own goal sealed the win for the hosts, a result that saw them move to within four points of the top six after back-to-back defeats against St Johnstone and Celtic had threatened to drag them back down the standings.

“We had to do it because otherwise you end up stuck in a bit of a rut conceding all the time, but the boys were excellent,” said MacKinnon.

“We had a tough game on Wednesday at Celtic, it took a lot out of us chasing shadows most of the time, so it was good to get the three points.

“Honestly when it got to two each I was thinking ‘here we go again’ but somehow we managed to nick it.”