SCOTT BROWN is only four games away from his 600th appearance for Celtic.

The next quartet of fixtures are against Sparta Prague in the Europa League Group H on Thursday in the Czech Republic, Ross County in the Betfred League Cup on Sunday at Parkhead, AC Milan in the San Siro the following midweek and St Johnstone in the Premiership in Glasgow a fortnight today.

But the 35-year-old Hoops skipper knows there are no guarantees in football and celebrations for the milestone may have to be put on hold.

Brown drew exasperated criticism from boss Neil Lennon after presenting Hibs with a needless penalty-kick seven minutes after the interval in the 2-2 stumble at Easter Road yesterday.

No danger threatened when the midfielder decided to clatter into the back of Martin Boyle who was almost of the touchline and it wasn’t a difficult decision for referee Bobby Madden to point to the spot.

PAYING THE PENALTY…referee Bobby Madden points to the spot after Scott Brown’s rash challenge while his 10 team-mates are in the box.

CQN froze the image from the live action and it highlights the utter craziness of the barge into the Hibs player – the ENTIRE Celtic team were in the penalty area at the time to deal with any possible threat. There was no need to panic and an experienced campaigner such as the Hoops onfield leader should have known a whole lot better.

His unfathomable action kicked off a sequence that led to angry gaffer Lennon accusing his players of “laziness”.

Scott Bain pushed away Kevin Nisbet’s effort from the spot, but his dithering team-mates – with the exception of Kristoffer Ajer – didn’t come to his rescue as the ball rebounded clear and Jamie Murphy was the first to react to tuck away the opening goal.

A few moments later, Nir Bitton, Jeremie Frimpong and Ryan Christie all fell asleep at a crucial moment and Nisbet netted the second goal. Late strikes from Odsonne Edouard, with a penalty-kick, and Diego Laxalt, with a belter in stoppage-time, salvaged a point.

But it was Brown’s inexplicable lunge at Boyle that created the mayhem in the first place and placed the team in jeopardy.

CRASH…Scott Brown charges at Martin Boyle.

BANG…the Celtic skipper clatters into the Hibs forward.

WALLOP…Brown spills off the pitch as Boyle wonders what hit him.

IT’S A PENALTY…Scott Brown walks away, Kristoffer Ajer winces in anguish and Boyle is helped back to his feet.

Lennon, speaking to the Sunday Mail, admitted: “We shot ourselves in the foot. Scott made a really rash decision that was unnecessary.

“The first goal came out of nothing. Scott, who was playing well, had a real rush of blood for some reason.

“He needs to take that out of his game.

“Scott Bain even saved the penalty for us, but we had two boys standing watching the rebound. Murphy was first to react.

“And the second goal is awful – it’s just lazy. It’s a free header, we didn’t track the run and just let Nisbet get the shot off. It was so easy.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and we did it. The attitude and quality in the last 20 minutes was excellent – but that should be for the 90.

“It might be an important point as we go along, but I am not in a celebratory mood at getting a draw.

“There’s a long way to go, but I’m looking for a better level of performance and getting a run together.”

Lennon added: “The attitude of some of the players has to be better.

“We had to change the shape again to get back in the game. That’s too common a theme this season.

“It’s frustrating and it’s head-scratching. The players have to start concentrating and showing a lot more desire. We can’t afford any more slip-ups.

“This team is capable of going on a good run, but they have to be mentally tuned every week. It was apparent that some of them switched off mentally.

“We aren’t doing the dirty bits well enough and we need to get rid of that softness because teams are highly motivated against us.”


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