Ali Crawford: I was lucky not to get red card against Hearts

Ali Crawford had an eventful night on Monday against Hearts, scoring a free-kick but also putting in a dangerous tackle on Jamie Walker. Pic: SNS

Ali Crawford had an eventful night on Monday against Hearts, scoring a free-kick but also putting in a dangerous tackle on Jamie Walker. Pic: SNS

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Hamilton midfielder Ali Crawford has admitted he was fortunate to avoid a red card for the tackle which incensed Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson on Monday night.

Crawford escaped with just a booking from referee Steven McLean for a studs-up foul on Hearts winger Jamie Walker in stoppage time of the 3-3 draw at the SuperSeal Stadium.

Neilson was highly critical of McLean afterwards, accusing the official of failing to do his job properly by not dismissing Crawford for a dangerous challenge.

It was uncharacteristic of Crawford, who is more renowned for his technical and attacking abilities as he displayed with the stunning free-kick for Hamilton’s first goal of the match.

But the 25-year-old accepts he got off lightly when McLean made his judgment on the incident.

“I’ve got the ball but it was a dodgy one and when the ref ran over I thought the worst,” said Crawford.

“I could have been sent off but he gave me a yellow card. If Hearts had gone up the park and scored a winner at that stage, then it’s my fault, so I had to make a challenge and take one for the team.”

Crawford made his 200th starting appearance for Accies on Monday night, his success with the South Lanarkshire club vindication of his self-belief which remained undimmed despite being rejected as a youngster by Hearts.

“I came to Hamilton when Hearts let me go when I was 15 because they said I was too small,” he said.

“When you looked at their team on Monday night, it was full of big people and that’s obviously the way they want to go.

“But I don’t think my height has held me back in my career. It feels like I’ve been at Hamilton forever now, but to get 200 starts is great for me.

“I felt I went out and expressed myself on Monday 
night, which is what I always try to do, and hopefully 
bigger things will come in the future.”