NEIL LENNON praised Bolton – after they crashed to the bottom of the Championship following a 2-1 loss at Reading.
The former Celtic boss believes his strugglers are playing well despite collapsing to their seventh away defeat in a disastrous campaign.
He said: “The goals we conceded, we just gave them to Reading. They didn’t have to work hard for either goal.
“The first one was schoolboy stuff from our point of view.“We didn’t look like a team at the bottom of the league, but I’ve been saying that for quite a while now.
“However, I’ve got to take positives from the defeat. There was a lot of good things that we did.
“We just need a bit of mental strength at both ends of the pitch, which is lacking at the moment.
“I think we could have been three goals up before we shot ourselves in the foot. Their keeper had to make three excellent saves during that period.”
Reading gaffer Steve Clarke thanked his club’s fans for not overreacting against him after he held talks with Fulham during the week about succeeding sacked Kit Symons.
The former Scottish international defender eventually decided to stay at the Madejski Stadium and the team celebrated with their first win in six games.
Clarke said: “It was always going to be a little bit strange for me in this game.
“But I’ve got to say that the crowd got it quite right. The reception was cool, but nothing more than that.
“And they got right behind the team, which is all we ask for. I don’t think the Fulham talks had any effect on the players.
“The result was good in the context of our season. We’re desperate to stay in and around the upper levels of the league and challenge for promotion.
“It was a big win for us after five games without a victory. It was really important to us.”
Reading went ahead in the 28th minute. Lucas Piazon blocked an attempted clearance by Prince-Desir Gouano, chased the loose ball and knocked it past Ben Amos.
The keeper could then do little when Danny Williams lashed home a 20-yard drive in the 34th minute.
Lennon’s men reduced the gap with 10 minutes to go when Liam Feeney hammered in a penalty-kick.
It was Bolton’s first goal in 408 minutes, but they could not force an equaliser. They are now rock bottom on 11 points, one adrift of Rotherham and four behind MK Dons.
Meanwhile former Celtic boss Tony Mowbray led Coventry City to the top of League One with a 4-1 win over Gillingham.
But the Sky Blues gaffer, who lasted only 10 months at Parkhead before being sacked in March 2010, is refusing to get carried away.
Mowbray, who celebrated his 52nd birthday today, said: “I was top with Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day two seasons on the bounce and finished outside the play-offs.
“It’s a long, long season. but I’m delighted with the performance. My job is to inspire the team and get them in the right frame of mind.
“When they left the dressing room, I thought they were ready for a proper game of football and it proved to be the case.
“We have to use that as our benchmark and try to attain that performance level as often as we can.
“I was pleased with the intensity and the concentration levels of the team.”
Jacob Murphy netted a hat-trick in 10 first-half minutes with Ben Turner adding the fourth. Bradley Dack hit the consolation.
Former Celtic skipper Gary Caldwell also had that winning feeling in the division as he saw his Wigan side win 1-0 against Shrewsbury.
He praised on-loan Cardiff City striker Alex Revell who got the only goal of a tense encounter.
Caldwell said: “If you put the ball in the box, Alex will score goals. His all-round play was superb, he leads the line well and brings others into play.
“He works so hard for the team and I was delighted with his overall performance.”
Wigan are now fourth in the league, four points adrift of Mowbray’s pacesetters.
Also down south, Peter Grant has revealed he has NO interest in taking over as Fulham’s permanent manager.
The former Celtic star took over the caretaker role in the 1-1 draw with MK Dons after Kit Symon’s sacking earlier in the month.
Grant has been with the club as an assistant since June 2014, but has no intention of taking the step up on a full-time basis.
He said: “I was delighted to come back into the dug-out, but I’m only here to come and fill the gap for the chairman while they search for a new manager.
“We have to get the right man and, hopefully, he can take us to the Premier League.
“There are a lot of good players in the team, but we were giving the ball away too easily. However, in the second-half we had more control of the game and we started to cause a threat.
“We could have won it, but we could have lost it, too, so overall I’m happy with the point.
“Moussa had a fantastic chance to give us the lead and that would have obviously changed the game.
“But I thought they dug in in the second-half. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for them – I thought they showed great character.”
Moving on, Paul Lambert admitted it was great to be back on soccer’s rollercoaster as he guided Blackburn Rovers to a 2-1 win over Preston.
The former Celtic skipper returned to the dug-out for the first time since being sacked by Aston Villa last season.
Lambert said: “It was strange being back. After nine months out, for the first time in 40 years, I was enjoying my life.
“Then you are back in the hot seat – the highs and lows – but it’s great to be back.
“We played a terrific game of football. The atmosphere was great in the stadium and we scored two goals against a team that hadn’t conceded in six games.
“The team deserves so much credit for that and I think we looked a threat every time we went forward.
“I’ve asked the players to do a lot for me. We’ve trained a bit differently, which is no slight on Gary Bowyer at all, but I have my own way of training, everyone does.
“The players have worked ever so hard to master that and it will take time.
“This is a marker that we can win games. The back four were colossal for us. They were proper men, proper defenders.”
Scottish international striker Jordan Rhodes claimed the winner with a penalty-kick after Rovers had taken the lead through a Jordan Pickford own goal.
The home side pulled one back through Joe Garner, but they lost their first game in seven after finishing with 10 men following Bailey Wright’s second yellow card.
THE WINDS OF CHANGE managing Celtic FC 1991-2005 is out now on CQN Books! Order now from CQN Bookstore HERE or click on image below.