Neil Lennon to appeal two-match ban

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon last night confirmed he will appeal against the two-match suspension to be imposed on him for his dismissal during his team's 2-0 defeat against Hearts last Wednesday night.

• Neil Lennon celebrates with Daniel Majstorovic following Celtic's 1-0 victory at St Mirren Park

Speaking after Gary Hooper's stoppage time goal had earned Celtic a 1-0 win at St Mirren Park, Lennon said he had yet to read referee Craig Thomson's report on the incident which saw him sent to the stand at Tynecastle when appeals for a penalty for handball against Hearts player Ryan Stevenson were turned down.

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Lennon, recently at the heart of Celtic's dispute with the SFA over a series of refereeing decisions against them, will receive an automatic two-match ban from the technical area but is determined to contest it. He has until tomorrow to submit an appeal with the SFA.

"I haven't looked at (Craig Thomson's report) yet, but I will do over the next few days," said Lennon. "And I will be defending my position. No doubt about it."

There was little in the way of controversy in Paisley yesterday, although Lennon did look to be heading for a fresh setback in the shape of a goalless draw against St Mirren until Hooper, his 2.4 million summer signing from Scunthorpe United, scored his tenth goal of the season in the second minute of time added on by referee Iain Brines.

Celtic created and missed enough chances to present a convincing case that the three points were merited but Lennon's fulsome praise of his team afterwards seemed to be overstating the standard of their performance.

"We were brilliant, absolutely brilliant," enthused Lennon. "Even at half-time, I wasn't ranting and raving but I thought we could have done a bit better in the final third. We had control of the game and made St Mirren chase the ball so that showed in the latter part of the game when we came on really strong.

• Match report: St Mirren 0 - 1 Celtic

"I would have been disappointed to draw the game as I would have held my hands up and said it wasn't going to be our day. But the fact was we created so many chances and the players still believed they could win the game. Their attitude and application was tremendous and I felt we got what we deserved. Sometimes you don't get what you deserve in football but we got what we deserved."

Lennon was rewarded for introducing three attacking players as substitutes in the second half in the shape of Daryl Murphy, Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt, with the latter creating the winning goal.

"We felt St Mirren were playing very deep and were difficult to break down," added Lennon. "We needed our eliminators on the pitch and McGinn can stretch them while Paddy can turn the game in a blink of an eye. He's made a massive impact again for us. Daryl Murphy gave us something when he came on as well but I thought Ki Sung Yeung and Shaun Maloney were world class. Defensively we were excellent."I told the players at half-time they may have to wait until the 93rd minute to get the goal so we will take it. I'm not a prophet but I've been in this situation with Celtic so many times and it's a testament to their character today. It's a testament to their belief and their fitness levels against a very committed and a very dogged St Mirren side.

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"Hooper wasn't at his best in terms of his play in general but we know he can score goals. He's a very intelligent player and I pointed him out as the player who could nick the goal for us. I didn't think we nicked it, I thought we fully merited it. I hope it shows the boys are prepared to go all the way to the end and we showed a reaction from Wednesday night. That's the reaction I was looking for.

"We were disappointed and we've always come back from every adverse result we've had this season. We were four points behind going into this game so it was imperative we didn't lose the game but winning it is a real shot in the arm. I felt we deserved it."