Celtic manager Neil Lennon praised his players “adaptation” to fanless football games following last night’s 2-1 victory over St Mirren.
He admitted that the empty stadiums necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic have altered the dynamics of performances, but believes the win in Paisley will provide its own motivation at the weekend in giving the Scottish champions the chance to go top of the table when hosting Livingston.
“It’s difficult because there are no supporters,” Lennon said after a success secured by a second goal in two games from Shane Duffy and a stunning header from James Forrest, that followed St Mirren taking the lead three minutes in through Lee Erwin. “I think it’s really difficult for them, especially at a big club like ours. But they are adapting to the environment as well as anyone.
“You get a head of steam up in a game and normally you get the atmosphere crackling. It gives the players a lift and there is none of that at the minute. If the goalkeeper makes a great save, the crowd get up. You win a corner and it’s an important facet of the game. We are missing all that at the minute. So there is a bit of adaptation, no question. Subconsciously that is a big miss for them. It’s not an excuse but we are adapting as best we can and as well as anyone. “[The chance to go top of the league] is one we are looking forward to, they are working hard. We have set them some targets now for this block of games before we break up for the internationals. We had a great win at the weekend, we won 5-0, but we were ragged. There was none of that tonight. Our intensity off the ball was very very good and that gave us good control of the game, albeit that we didn’t get five goals tonight. In terms of the shape and the attitude of the players it was a lot better tonight.’
On an evening when Odsonne Edouard had a penalty saved by the impressive on-loan Hearts keeper Bobby Zlamal, St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin was left despairing over John Beaton rejecting an appeal over a Duffy handball in the box. It reaffirmed his belief that VAR is a must for Scottish football.
“I am disappointed that we didn’t get a penalty,” he said. “I am not for one minute suggesting Shane Duffy deliberately handled the ball, but he definitely did handball it and stopped the ball going through to Richard Tait who would have had an opportunity to put the ball in the net. Maybe the conversation we should be having is ‘where are we going to find the money to get VAR’.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.