Friday 24 January 2020

Lennon: Late win a lesson for newbies

Neil Lennon. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Neil Lennon. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Celtic boss Neil Lennon believes their late win over Dunfermline was all part of the learning process for his summer recruits.

Left-back Boli Bolingoli was recalled after being left out of the Champions League loss to Cluj while Chris Jullien came into central defence for fitness doubt Jozo Simunovic.

Lennon admitted he had preferred Callum McGregor to Bolingoli against the Romanians partly because the Belgian’s form had been up and down, but it was Jullien who initially struggled against the Pars in Celtic’s 2-1 extra-time win in the Betfred Cup.

The £7million Toulouse signing allowed Kevin Nisbet the best chance of the first half after misjudging a long ball, but the striker could not hit the target.

Jullien went on to make some risky challenges and missed two excellent headed chances, although he proved a real presence in the opposition box.

But Lennon felt both new defenders grew into the game and told them and his team-mates he was proud of their character after James Forrest netted in the 114th minute to stretch Celtic’s winning run to 28 games in domestic cup competition.

Lennon said: “They did fine after a shaky start. It will do them a world of good.

“It’s a test of character sometimes, not just your footballing ability.

“They have seen great nights, they have seen frustrating games. It’s all part of adapting to life here in Glasgow.”

Celtic hit the target from 11 of their 36 shots but Lennon was happy to see them take some ambitious strikes as Dunfermline crowded the penalty box.

The tactic paid off when Mikey Johnston netted from 25 yards for the opener before Tom Beadling’s goal sparked extra-time.

“Sometimes when you have that amount of bodies in front of you, you have to shoot,” Lennon added. “You saw Gerrard and Scholes score from outside the box and I encourage that from my players. Sometimes a 25-yarder does the job.”

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