NEIL Lennon believes Fraser Forster’s pursuit of further clean sheet landmarks will ensure Celtic remain fully focused on the remainder of their Scottish Premiership campaign.
Forster racked up his 11th consecutive league shut-out in yesterday’s 1-0 win over St Mirren at Celtic Park, eclipsing the previous club record set by celebrated goalkeeper Charlie Shaw back in 1914 and 1922.
England international Forster is now closing in on a clutch of other successive clean sheet records. He is one short of both the all-time Scottish best of 12, posted by Aberdeen goalkeeper Bobby Clark in 1970-71, and Shaw’s Celtic mark of 13 in all domestic matches achieved in season 1913-14.
Forster also has the world record in his sights, currently held by Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar for Manchester United in the English Premier League in 2008-09. If Forster does not concede a goal in his next 277 minutes of league football – that’s three games and seven minutes of the fourth – he will beat Van der Sar’s run of 1,311 minutes.
With Celtic now a massive 21 points clear at the top of the table and certain to secure a third successive title, Lennon says helping Forster reach that target will now be his team’s primary motivation. “I wasn’t aware Fraser was getting close to the world record, but it is something to aim for now,” said Lennon. “It really keeps our season alive. We are pretty well clear in the league so the clean sheets are another yardstick for them to try and achieve. As is keeping the unbeaten record going. We are at 24 games now in the league this season and I can’t ask for any more from the players. We have hit good and I’m enjoying the way we are passing the ball.
“The record Fraser set today is something we are all very proud of. We certainly don’t take it for granted. These are special times for the players. When they look back on their time here, they can reflect on this as quite an achievement. To break such a long-standing record is absolutely fantastic.”
Lennon was also thrilled by the display of Norwegian international midfielder Stefan Johansen who excelled on his first full 90 minutes since joining Celtic last month.
“I thought we had total control of the game and we had some great performances, particularly from Johansen on his full debut,” added Lennon. “It was as good a debut as I have seen in my time as manager here. I really enjoyed watching us play. The only thing that was missing was the couple more goals that would really have emphasised our superiority.”
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon was relatively content with his team’s effort, despite suffering another defeat which leaves them uncomfortably close to the relegation play-off place.
“It’s probably up there with as well as we have played at Celtic Park,” he said. “The game plan took a dunt when we lost a goal after just five minutes, but the players didn’t let it affect them and continued to believe in themselves.”