A bottle was thrown towards Scott Sinclair from the Hibernian end as the winger prepared to take a corner in the 57th minute with Hibs later issuing a statement in which they said it was their understanding that “two bottles were thrown, one from each set of supporters”.
The disturbing trend of missiles being aimed at players which has dogged Scottish football this season moved Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon to appeal for the authorities to step up their efforts to deal with those responsible and so ensure that the pitch remained a sanctuary for those asked to perform on it.
“It’s just a real sore point of this season. Bottles, coins, flares, it’s just totally unacceptable,” said Lennon, who was struck by a coin at Tynecastle when managing Hibs there earlier in the campaign.
“These players should be out there in the safest environment to be. They are entertaining the public, whether that be the Celtic public, the Scottish public.
“Officials and management, it should be a safe environment for us to come and do our job and work and enjoy it.
“I don’t like to see it, it’s got to be stamped out. It’s just happening far too often. That could have really hurt Scott and if it had then God knows what we’d be talking about now.
“I’m not sure if he [Scott Sinclair] was aware of it, I haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet. I don’t know why it’s happening, it must be a social thing. But we’ve seen officials, players, managers with coins and bottles and it’s not on.
“We need to find the culprits, arrest them and punish them. You can’t stop individuals from moments of madness when they have probably had too much to drink.”
Lennon was backed by Hibs defender Darren McGregor, who had to remove a flare thrown from the Celtic end in the aftermath of James Forrest’s 61st-minute opener, which was followed by a clinching second from Scott Brown as Lennon kept Celtic on course for a treble treble in a week where he was handed the reins again following the departure of Brendan Rodgers to Leicester City.
“You’re there to play regardless of what team you’re in and what environment you’re in,” said McGregor. “No one deserves to be assaulted and bottles being chucked. But it’s obviously an idiot, an individual, who has had too much to drink and isn’t thinking straight. But you don’t want that in the game and it’s something we need to stamp out. It’s not just players, its people as well. You need to be responsible at a football game. There can be great banter and giving the opposition a bit of a hard time. But it’s just despicable that you get someone who wants to chuck a glass bottle on to the pitch. If it had hit him then it could be really serious.
“I think I speak for everybody and probably 99 per cent of the Hibernian support and any other support in Scotland that they don’t condone this. But there are always a couple of idiots in the crowd, so it’s better rooting them out and getting to the core of it. I dealt with the flare. I was just waiting for someone to come out with a bucket to put over it. It’s happened in three or four games and its irked me how long it takes to be sorted. So I just thought I’d go over and grab it and fling it off.”
Meanwhile, Lennon admitted his overriding emotion on guiding Celtic to a 25th straight win in domestic cup ties was “relief”, the transition from Rodgers to his fellow Irishman having proven seamless courtesy of victories at Tynecastle and Easter Road in the days since Lennon was placed in interim charge on Tuesday.
“I didn’t want to come in after 24 cup games and be the one that spoils that run or have people pointing the finger,” he said of a win on his return to a Leith club he only departed from a month ago. “It was a long day. My stomach was churning when I woke up. I had to go for a walk, I had to come back and get some fresh air again. It is a quick turnaround. It was difficult leaving here but it has worked out okay I think. Now my whole focus is on Celtic. We are not getting carried away. It is only two games but you have to remember what an influence Brendan was, not just on the players but on the club with the philosophy he brought to the club.”