Lennon ire as Celtic fail at Hampden again
St Mirren 3 Celtic 2:If a team are to have a bogey ground, it is not useful for it to be the place where trophies are handed out. Neil Lennon has grown weary of discussing troubled afternoons for Celtic at Hampden Park. Ross County, Kilmarnock, Hearts, Rangers and now St Mirren have ended Celtic silverware aspirations at the national stadium since Lennon became the manager.
In this instance, Lennon was rightly scathing of a Celtic display that could be generously described as lethargic and, otherwise, classed as astonishingly bad. In proving Scottish football may be many things but is not yet completely predictable, Celtic’s supposedly straightforward run to a domestic treble was ended at the League Cup’s semi-final stage. St Mirren fully merited their victory, which earns them a meeting with Hearts in the final on March 17th.
“That was a soulless performance from us,” Lennon said. “We lacked intensity, desire and a will to win. Some of them behaved like spoilt kids out there. The treble has gone and we only have ourselves to blame. We will get criticism and rightly so; that was an impersonation of the team I know.”
Lennon can be accused of many things, but never of sugar-coating dismal performances. “Defensively, I thought we were awful,” he said. “This seems to be a bogey ground for us but that is the worst we have played here. That was awful, from what I regard as top-class players. Maybe I have got it wrong, maybe I need to look at changing things before the [transfer] window closes.”
The zest displayed by St Mirren belied their status as the team second from bottom in the Scottish Premier League.
Esmael Goncalves, making his debut, clipped home St Mirren’s opener when meeting a Newton cross. It was a surprise that Celtic snatched an equaliser just seconds before the break, Gary Hooper converted from close range.
Charlie Mulgrew missed a penalty for Celtic before conceding one at the other end, converted by Paul McGowan.
To their credit, St Mirren did not settle for that advantage. Steve Thompson claimed their third, with a volley from Marc McAusland’s cross that Lukasz Zaluska could have done better with.
Celtic did score again, Mulgrew concluding his eventful game by shooting home from long range but it was too little and way too late for Celtic.