NEIL LENNON could not contain his anger after watching Celtic gift Hibs two goals in his side’s wayward performance in the 2-2 draw with Hibs at Easter Road yesterday.
The Hoops boss branded some of his players “lazy”, as reported in CQN earlier today, and said: “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.”
DEJECTED…Neil Lennon gives his views after the Easter Road stumble.
With the help of freeze frames, CQN can highlight the moments that sparked the criticism from a manager who acknowledges his job is on the line if the team do not produce on a consistent basis in what should be one of the most significant seasons in the club’s history.
The defence has been an embarrassment in recent months and the dozy back lot have now conceded SEVENTEEN goals in the past eight games with only one clean sheet – the 2-0 victory over Aberdeen in the delayed Scottish Cup semi-final at the start of this month – in a sequence that does not bode well.
Seven teams have queued up to stick the ball behind either Scott Bain, who has lost 12 in six, and £4.5million Vasilis Barkas, who has had to fish the ball out of his net on five occasions in two games.
Clearly, the free-gift scheme enraged Lennon in the capital and it is easy to offer sympathy to the frustrated and agitated Irishman. There is very little even a master tactician can produce from the touchline if certain individuals switch off at crucial moments.
These images prove conclusively what Lennon has been saying in recent weeks.
THE FIRST GOAL is a disaster from start to finish. Scott Brown’s needless barge into the back of Martin Boyle to present his old team with a penalty-kick in the 52nd minute is unfathomable. Utterly reckless and provoked the rebuke of “a rush of blood” to the veteran’s head from his manager.
CQN highlighted an image in an earlier tale to emphasise that the skipper’s TEN team-mates were all in the box to deal with any danger.
It doesn’t get any better when Bain dives to his right to push away Kevin Nisbet’s spot-kick. Images show Jeremie Frimpong and Nir Bitton watching the action on the edge of the box with their hands on their hips. There is no urgency from the Hoops pair when it is clear their keeper needs assistance.
Kristoffer Ajer is already following in Nisbet’s shot in an effort to deal with any rebound, but, unfortunately, Jamie Murphy beats the Norwegian to the bouncing ball to thump in the opening goal.
An impromptu inquest takes place with the towering defender and Bain asking where their team-mates were in their moment of need.
MOMENT OF IMPACT…Kevin Nisbet prepares to strike the penalty-kick as Scott Bain veers to his right.
WHOOSH…the spot-kick is on its way as Kristoffer Ajer and Jamie Murphy race into the box. Jeremie Frimpong and Nir Bitton, hands on hips, and Scott Brown watch from the 18-yard line.
RIGHT MOVE…Bain takes off as Nisbet’s effort zooms towards the goal.
SAVED…Bain pushes the ball away as Ajer and Murphy are alerted, Brown moves into the box and Frimpong and Bitton stay put.
REBOUND…Bain is grounded as the ball unfortunately breaks in the direction of the Hibs player with Ajer changing direction. Frimpong and Bitton at last spot the danger.
ON ITS WAY…Murphy beats Ajer to the ball to fire it away from the stranded Bain. Frimpong, Bitton and Brown get a close-up view.
IN THE NET…Ajer and Bain find their efforts are in vain while the others look on.
WHERE WERE YOU? Ajer and Bain ask questions of Frimpong, Bitton and Brown after their no-show at the rebound.
THE SECOND GOAL arrives seven minutes later when three Celts – Bitton, Frimpong and Ryan Christie – are caught ball-watching as a long diagonal free-kick from Stevie Mallan from right to left is allowed to travel all the way without anyone putting pressure on Murphy.
He is allowed to rise and knock the ball down to Nisbet racing clear. Bitton is slow to see the danger, but at least tries to keep pace with the forward.
Alarmingly, Frimpong, the fastest player at Parkhead, decides to stay put while Christie remains on the same spot, too.
Nisbet takes full advantage before sliding a shot across Bain in at his far post, the ball entering the net via the inside of the upright. From a goalkeeper’s point of view, it’s a horrible goal to concede and the netminder will have to have another look at his positioning.
UP IN THE AIR…Jamie Murphy is under no pressure from Jeremie Frimpong and Ryan Christie as he prepares to get on the end of a long crossball.
HEADS I WIN…Murphy knocks the ball down to Kevin Nisbet with Nir Bitton, Frimpong and Christie watching.
ON THE RUN…Nisbet and Bitton in a race for the ball with Frimpong now on alert.
BY THE LEFT…Nisbet beats Bitton to the ball and fires it towards the goal. Frimpong watches.
ON TARGET…Bain moves to his left as Nisbet’s shot arrows low to the corner. Frimpong is stationary.
IT’S THERE…Nisbet’s angled drive beats Bain with Bitton watching. Frimpong reaches the 18-yard line.
WHOOPS AND OOPS…Nisbet turns away in joy as Bitton, Bain and Frimpong are left in anguish.
NET LOSS…Bitton expresses his frustration as Bain sits it out. Frimpong is still on the 18-yard line as Kristoffer Ajer prepares to retrieve the ball.
Pictures don’t lie and here is the proof Celtic’s defence need to stay alert or a season that promised so much in the summer is in peril of being swept away in a series of unnecessary errors.
It’s x-certificate viewing and Lennon accepts there will be dire consequences if the rot does not stop NOW.