Monday 18 December 2017

In Brief: Lennon takes blame for loss

CELTIC boss Neil Lennon blamed himself as his side fell to a 2-0 Scottish Premier League home defeat to Kilmarnock, the visitors' first win at Parkhead for 57 years.

Former Celt Cillian Sheridan scored two minutes before the break and midfielder Liam Kelly slammed in the second goal from the spot just after the hour mark.

Hoops left-back Emilio Izaguirre fouled Rory McKenzie, and Kelly took advantage to secure three points.

"I didn't envisage a performance as flat as that, particularly with freshening the team up," said Lennon.

"But it was my fault, I picked the team. I am not blaming the players for that.

"There was a malaise about the team that I did not like at all. It was too passive, there was no intensity to our play and we got what we deserved.

"It is a dose of reality, we came down to earth with a bump."

Meanwhile, David Robertson's last-gasp equaliser for St Johnstone against Inverness moved them to within two points of leaders Celtic.

Ameobi eyes starting role

Shola Ameobi has warned Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse he will not be satisfied with playing a supporting role to their double act.

The 31-year-old got the nod alongside Ba for last Sunday's 1-1 derby draw at Sunderland, and has no intention of surrendering his place as West Brom head for St James' Park this afternoon.

Ameobi found himself largely providing the back-up to the striking pair last season, but with manager Alan Pardew insisting there is nothing to choose between the trio, he is hoping for an extended run in the team.

"It was a slow start at the start of the season, being injured, so I feel I am making up for lost time and raring to go," said Ameobi. "I feel very, very good, my game is there and I'm just itching to play more football, and if I get the nod, I have to show what I can do because we have got two other great strikers at this club."

Wolves fail to capitalise

WOLVES manager Stale Solbakken accused his players of letting the pressure get to them after they squandered a winning opportunity at Molineux in the 1-1 Championship draw with Charlton.

"We played poorly, it was a very untidy second half from both sides," said Solbakken.

"We don't want to play like this, we want to control the game much better but we were not able to do that.

"When Charlton scored we got stressed. Instead of trying to raise the tempo we looked stressed.

Bakary Sako fired Wolves into a fully deserved 12th minute lead and they dominated the opening half.

Thirteen minutes into the second half, just after Kevin Doyle had seen what would have been a crucial second ruled out for offside, a decision which was marginal, Lawrie Wilson pounced to fire home his first goal since signing in the summer.

This draw leaves Wolves with one win from their last five Championship matches.

Elsewhere in the division, Cardiff manager Malky Mackay refused to get carried away despite seeing his side return to the top of the table following their emphatic 4-0 home victory over Burnley.

Mackay said: "I'm delighted that after 12 games we're in and around what is going on.

"But I'm acutely aware how relentless and unforgiving this league is as well as how quickly your squad can be decimated by injuries."

Cox on target for Forest

Simon Cox was among the goals as Nottingham Forest hit three goals in 10 first-half minutes to stun Barnsley 4-1 and climb into the Championship play-off places.

After the win, Forest boss Sean O'Driscoll admitted he has not yet identified his strongest starting XI.

"It's difficult to pick my best 11, it's still forming and we've had suspensions," he said.

"You take one step forwards sometimes and two steps back.

"But regardless of the score, I thought our approach was good, our attitude was good. They're a team that if you let them get fluid they're able to pass the ball, and we stopped that."

Marlon Harewood had handed the Tykes a 24th-minute lead, before Greg Halford levelled after 35 minutes, and Cox's tap-in put them ahead seven minutes later.

The win was sealed with further strikes by Chris Cohen and Jermaine Jenas.

Meanwhile, Jordan Rhodes' injury-time winner earned Blackburn a 1-0 home win against Watford.

Lita's magic lights up Blues

Leroy Lita'S spectacular strike provided the perfect 40th birthday present for Birmingham manager Lee Clark as Leeds failed to score for the first time this season.

A match sadly lacking in quality cried out for something special and Lita, on loan from Swansea, provided it with 14 minutes left as his searing drive sped just inside the left post.

Clark was delighted with his team.

"We dictated the tempo and did what we set out to do by nullifying the crowd. Leeds came at us a bit more in the second half but the lads stood strong and defended well."

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