Neil Lennon again scathing about match officials

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon will today decide whether to resume the club's war-by-letter with the Scottish Football Association after another controversial outing for his side last night.

Hearts were deserved victors at Tynecastle, scoring in each half through Ian Black and man of the match David Templeton. This was another notable win for Jim Jefferies' in-form team, coming just days after victory by the same scoreline over Hibs.

But attention was diverted from their exploits by yet further refereeing controversy, with Craig Thomson under fire from Lennon after sending off Joe Ledley after 56 minutes for a two-footed tackle on Black. "It wasn't a foul never mind a sending off," stated Lennon. "It was a disgraceful decision."

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The midfielder's exit was followed soon after by that of Lennon himself, sent to the stand by Thomson following remarks made to fourth official, Steven McLean, after Celtic were denied what they felt was a penalty when the ball struck Hearts substitute Ryan Stevenson's hand.

"It's a clear penalty, I can see that 45 yards away," said Lennon. "If the referee doesn't see it the standside linesman should see it. His arm was up and he's fisted the ball with his hand Again here we are talking about referees after the game."

He added: "I still don't know why I was sent off myself. (The referee] didn't say anything to me. He came over on the advice of his fourth official and sent me to the stand which is a scandalous decision and I want clarification on that.

"We were still re-jigging the team when they got the second goal and it was an uphill struggle after that," he added.

• In pictures: Hearts 2 - 0 Celtic

Lennon was once more not shy about voicing his criticism of the officials, and made a more scathing accusation when interviewed by BBC Scotland radio after the game. "They'll probably have their story ready already," he said, with reference to Thomson and near-side referee's assistant Graham Chambers, who the manager felt had bottled it at the penalty decision. It was also a veiled reference to another controversy involving Celtic, when Dougie McDonald over-ruled his own decision to award Lennon's team a penalty at Dundee United last month.

This sparked an open-season on referees and Thomson is the latest to venture out into the firing line, with Lennon again using the dreaded c word as he contemplated what the club's reaction will be following another night of perceived grievances.

"I'll have a think about - I want clarification on my sending off and obviously on Joe's as well," said Lennon. He was later asked what he meant by clarification and he revealed it would "probably" take the form of another letter to the SFA, with Celtic having felt compelled to seek an explanation for a number of refereeing decisions stretching back to last season.

However much the referee was perceived to have erred by Lennon last night, the truth was that Hearts richly merited the victory. "We deserved another goal," Jefferies said.

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Jefferies agreed with the red card shown to Ledley, described by Lennon as the game's pivotal moment.

"The referee indicated it was a two-footed lunge and if that's the case then it is a red card," he said.

He also dismissed Celtic's penalty claim when Stevenson was reckoned to have hand-balled. "The Celtic fans at that end were claiming for anything by then," he smiled.