Let’s keep Celtic's great run going: Lennon
Celtic 2 Dunfermline 0: Neil Lennon last night urged his Celtic players not to “spoil” their tremendous winning run after their 2-0 win over Dunfermline at Parkhead took them 20 points clear of Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Amid a night of missed chances, defender Charlie Mulgrew celebrated his first Scotland call-up with a wonderful strike in the first half before substitute James Forrest, on for Emilio Izaguirre, made it number two after the break from close range.
The Hoops extended their domestic winning run to 19 games, and 13 in all competitions, equalling a feat achieved by Martin O'Neill's side in 2004, in which Lennon was a lynchpin.
However, the Celtic boss revealed he keeps reminding the Hoops class of 2012: “Don't spoil it. Don't let the run get away.
“Something like this happens maybe once in your career and they should be proud of it and try to hold on to it as long as they can — that's all I am asking them to do.
“We could easily have switched off and they could have gone home thinking they had chucked it away but they didn't and I am delighted,” said the Ulsterman.
“I thought we made it hard for ourselves.
“The only criticism I can level at the players is that they were wasteful in front of goal.
“Apart from that I'm very proud of the team and the way they are playing.
“They have opened up a huge gap in the championship and I couldn't ask any more.
“It took a wonder goal to get us started but that happens when teams sit in.
“Once we got there, I thought we were in total control and I thought we were very good,
“I think we had 16 or 17 corners and the goalkeeper made some great saves. We did miss simple opportunities but that is a minimum criticism — I am absolutely delighted with them.”
Strikers Anthony Stokes and Gary Hooper were two of the biggest culprits in front of goal but Lennon went easy on the two players who have scored 37 times between them this season.
He said: “The only criticism I have of Gary and Anthony was that they missed decent chances but they are always there to try to put them away. I thought we were so comfortable in possession and they weren't under any great amount of pressure.
“We were camped in Dunfermline's half for a long, long time and there can be a lack of clinical finishing that we have become accustomed to with them.
“But you know, they are allowed a day off.”
l STUART McCall was thrilled watching Motherwell defeat Hibs 4-3 — which takes them within three points of Rangers — thanks to a Michael Higdon hat-trick at Fir Park last night. Isaiah Osbourne fired Hibs into a half-time lead, before Higdon (penalty) and Jamie Murphy put the hosts ahead only for the visitors to respond through Matt Doherty. Higdon scored again and then added a penalty to make it 4-2 before Ulsterman Ivan Sproule pulled one back.
“I am delighted for Higgy — he gives everything he has got and is a vital part of the team here,” said McCall.
Hibs boss Pat Fenlon said: “I thought we killed ourselves — we gave away sloppy goals and put in rash challenges.”