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Lennon irate with referee as Celtic draw with St Mirren

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon described referee Bobby Madden's performance in Celtic's controversial 1-1 draw with St Mirren in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in Paisley as "appalling" and revealed he will appeal the red card handed to midfielder Victor Wanyama.


Kris Commons headed the Parkhead side into the lead in the sixth minute before he was carried off on a stretcher just before the break with an ankle injury after clashing with team mate Beram Kayal.

The home side had the ball in the net in the first half from a Gary Teale cross only to have it ruled out for Paul Dummett's challenge on Hoops keeper Fraser Forster.

They then had a good penalty appeal turned down moments from the interval when the ball appeared to hit the arm of Celtic's stand-in skipper Georgios Samaras.

Wanyama, back from suspension, was shown a straight red card 10 minutes into the second-half for a challenge on Paul McGowan, who levelled from the spot with 10 minutes remaining after Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Esmael Goncalves in the box, when it looked like there was little or no contact.

The Hoops boss admitted his concern for the "standard of refereeing" in general but first turned his ire on Madden.

"That was the most appalling refereeing performance I have seen for a long, long time, he said.

"I mean, you can't get so many big decisions so wrong, it is incredible.

"For me St Mirren should have had a penalty, it is a clear handball.

"You don't get many more as clean-cut as that so we dodged a bullet there.

"Then I see Kayal getting wrestled into the advertising hoardings right in front of the linesman and he doesn't give a free-kick and two seconds later, I've got a man sent-off for nothing and the penalty that St Mirren did get was outside the box and there is no contact.

"So I am delighted that we got a point out of it but there is no doubt that the referee's decisions ruined what could have been potentially a good game.

"The sending off is ridiculous and it changed the game."

Asked if it could be presumed he would appeal Wanyama's dismissal the former Celtic skipper replied: "You can presume right, yes."

Lennon did not think Saints should have had a goal in the first half, saying: "It's a foul, someone has pushed someone into Fraser."

However, television evidence revealed that it was Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre who had given the Saints defender Dummett a nudge.

In a more general swipe at the standard of refereeing, Lennon made reference to the Scottish Football Association's head of referee development, John Fleming.

He said: "I think John will have plenty of phone-calls and e-mails to answer tonight.

"I am concerned now about the standard of refereeing.

"I have kept my counsel on it for a couple of months but there have been some really bizarre decisions, not just against my team, which have baffled me.

"Today is by far the most blatant performance I have seen. It was really poor."

Celtic moved 13 points clear of Motherwell and can clinch the title next week with a home win over Hibernian if the Steelmen lose to St Mirren.

On the extent of Commons' injury, Lennon said: "He got a really bad bang on the ankle, it was a blow to us because he was our best player."

St Mirren boss Danny Lennon was more considered and conciliatory in his analysis of Madden's performance.

He said: "Managers, players, supporters, we can all have bad days and I suppose it is the same with officials.

"We know the difficult job they have and once they sit back and watch that I believe they will pick up one or two things."

Lennon, though, did have his own views on some of the key incidents.

The former Cowdenbeath manager said: "For our penalty, I am led to believe it was outside the box, they say these things work themselves out throughout the game so if it was we got a wee break there."

As for the penalty that was denied the Buddies in the first-half when Samaras nudged the ball with his arm, Lennon said: "There is a fine line in the laws of the game, was it a deliberate hand ball or did the ball play him?

"Let's make it simple, if it hits his arm or hand then it is a penalty, then there is no mistake.

"I was a bit irate (when Dummett was penalised for a push on Forster).

"The way I have seen it and the way the replay showed it, Izaguirre pushed our player into the goalkeeper. So it is either a penalty for us or a goal.

"But we were delighted to at least take a point out of the game, we deserved it."


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