IAN McCALL accepts that his players were a little rusty after being held to a 2-2 draw with Hamilton Accies in a thrilling encounter in Lanarkshire.

Scott Tiffoney’s free-kick gave the visitors the lead at the FOYS Stadium on the stroke of half-time before the game exploded to life in the second half. Andy Ryan levelled from the penalty spot, Zak Rudden restored Partick Thistle’s lead and Mihai Popescu grabbed his first goal for Hamilton as the two teams settled for a share of the spoils.

“About eight of them have hardly trained at all this week until Thursday and it looked like we had run out of legs with 25 minutes to go but then the last five minutes they came back really, really strong,” McCall said.

“Ultimately we’ve missed two or three chances to win it and the goals we’ve lost are poor and very, very unlike us. That’s probably down to fatigue, concentration, that kind of thing.

“I was very proud with how we finished considering there’s at least seven of the starting XI hadn’t done anything. It’s a game we should have won but we’ll take the draw and move on.”

Stuart Bannigan was the sole first-team regular missing from the starting XI, which led to a debut for Robbie Crawford in the heart of midfield following the 27-year-old’s move from Motherwell on Friday.

Each of Thistle’s last three league fixtures had been called off at short notice so it was understandable that there was a little rustiness to shake off. An early pot-shot from Miko Virtanen after some good work from Ryan tested Jamie Sneddon in the Thistle goal as Accies looked to make the most of their strong start.

The Jags grew into the game, though, and soon started to exert a bit of pressure of their own. Joe Hilton had to be sharp to palm a Rudden shot wide of the near post but more often than not, some slack passing in the final third caused a promising attack to break down. The Accies defence was deep, well-organised and proving difficult to breach.

Ross Docherty won a free-kick right in the centre of the Hamilton dee on the stroke of half-time, allowing for one final chance. Up stepped Tiffoney, who seized it with gusto as he rifled a low shot into the bottom corner.

Accies’ Marley Redfern’s afternoon was cut short when he was on the receiving end of a firm but fair tackle from Docherty just after the restart, and the midfielder had to be helped off the park as Reegan Mimnaugh came on to replace him.

With the clock approaching the hour mark, Hamilton then got the equaliser their play deserved. A rash tackle from Lewis Mayo sent his opponent clattering to the floor, with referee Willie Collum pointing immediately to the spot. Ryan leathered the ball high into the net and although he got a hand to it, Sneddon couldn’t keep the ball out.

The game was getting increasingly frenetic and end-to-end as the two sides searched for supremacy. With 25 minutes left to play, the Jags found it through Rudden.

Richard Foster reacted to quickly to win the ball in midfield and drive forward before shifting it right to Turner. In came the cross, Brian Graham nodded it back across goal at the far post and Rudden was at hand to poke the ball home from close range.

Within minutes, the scores were level again. A well-worked move from Accies saw the ball played to Ryan, who did well to beat his man and float a cross towards Popescu. The central defender acrobatically volleyed it first time and although it wasn’t the cleanest hit, Sneddon could do little to stop it.

Tiffoney spurned a glorious chance to restore his side’s lead as he burst clear of the Accies defence but Hilton did well to deny the winger with his feet while at the other end, Jamie Hamilton rattled the crossbar with a powerful header from a Mimnaugh corner and Ryan went close with a long-range free-kick that was tipped over.

A goal-bound Tiffoney shot was well blocked as the game entered stoppage time and Thistle almost grabbed a late winner from the resulting corner. Turner picked out Mayo at the back post but Hilton was able to claw it away and earn Accies a point.

“It was a game of battles and we had to stand up to it and nearly won it,” said Accies manager Stuart Taylor.

“I am delighted with the lads and how they responded to the setbacks within the game.

“If you want to look back at the last game, we have progressed a lot and you can see the mentality.”

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson was in attendance at the FOYS Stadium and is believed to have been taking a closer look at Rudden, with Saints having already had an approach for the 21-year-old rebuffed this month.

McCall added that the striker's situation is simple.

"If they give us money then we might sell him but if they don’t give us money then we won’t," he said.

"It’s a fluid situation. We’ll wait and see what people offer and what that brings. Listen, I’m not stressed about it. Whatever happens is going to happen."