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Lennon blasts ref after a late escape for Celtic

Hamilton Acad 1 Celtic 1: Celtic manager Neil Lennon launched a blistering attack on referee Willie Collum after his side were forced to battle for a last-gasp draw against rock-bottom Hamilton in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Lennon and his club are already embroiled in a bitter war of words with the Scottish Football Association after the Hoops boss was handed a six-match touchline ban, a decision Celtic are appealing.

A penalty in the last minute from Anthony Stokes secured a point for the SPL leaders after Simon Mensing had shocked their high-flying visitors by grabbing the opener for Hamilton.

In a match packed with drama, Mensing was sent off for conceding the spot-kick, after team-mate Jim McAlister and Celtic's James Forrest were both given straight red cards earlier in the game.

One of Lennon's complaints centred on the Hamilton goal, when Martin Canning appeared to be in an offside position and obstructing the view of goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Asked about the referee's performance, Lennon said: “It's not good enough. My players were fine, they played well, I was happy with them, with their character.

“My only criticism is over-elaborating in the final third. We had acres of possession against a team who wanted to camp in all night, which is fine, that's their prerogative. That's fine by me.

“I just want the officials to do their jobs properly.”

Asked if he believed it was a case of more than simply being a poor display from the official, Lennon replied: “You make your own mind up.”

Celtic thought they had snatched victory deep into more than seven minutes of injury time when Stokes nodded home from an Emilio Izaguirre corner, which was deemed to have gone out of play.

Lennon said: “He said the ball went out of play. He has done very well to see that yet he didn't see Canning two yards offside for their goal.

“He is offside and goals change games. It gives Hamilton something to hold on to for the rest of the game.

“All you want is for the official to do his job. The player is in an offside position and he was blocking the goalkeeper's view.

“I actually blamed my goalkeeper at half-time, totally unjustly, because he couldn't see it, Canning was blocking his view. It's all right me banging on about referees but goals change games. We had a goal disallowed at the end but he seemed to see that one all right.”

On Forrest's red card, he added: “I would give the referee the benefit of the doubt on that one, the linesman had a good view as well.

“It's all right for me to say that it's not in his nature to do that but I can see why he did give it.”

But Lennon was furious that Ulsterman Niall McGinn was booked for diving late on, when he felt the player should have been awarded a penalty instead.

He said: “It's a penalty. Another game-changing incident. I think everyone in the ground thought it was a penalty.

“There was no contact with the ball. From what I've seen from the TV cameras, it was a penalty.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph