Wednesday 13 December 2017

Stokes: we did it for Lennon

anthony Stokes admitted that the players "stood up for the manager'' in the second half as Celtic battled back from a three-goal interval deficit to draw 3-3 with Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Rugby Park.

The visitors were all over the place as Killie raced in to an astonishing interval lead through goals by Dean Shiels, Paul Heffernan and James Fowler.

But the players responded with three goals in six minutes to take a point. Stokes scored twice, the first from a free-kick in the 73rd minute, before stand-in skipper Charlie Mulgrew headed an equaliser from close range in the 79th minute.

Stokes admitted the players knew at the interval that the pressure was heaped on Lennon. "The lads stood up for him in the second half,'' said Stokes.

"There would have been a lot of pressure on the gaffer so we did it for him, ourselves and the fans because they deserved it as the first half was unacceptable. It was a catalogue of errors.''

Rangers, meanwhile, were denied a 10th consecutive win in the title race after being held to a last-gasp draw by St Mirren.

The Scottish champions had looked on course to move 12 points clear of Celtic when Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring early in the second half.

But Ally McCoist's men were stunned when Saints hit back deep in injury time as former Rangers striker Steven Thompson grabbed a late leveller.`

O'Shea: Estonia no pushover

John O'Shea has said Ireland don't deserve to qualify for the European Championship finals if they can't beat Estonia in next month's play-off.

"Everyone is thinking Estonia is the weak team, but's that the approach we're trying to avoid," said O'Shea.

O'Shea didn't make the World Cup squad in 2002 and says getting to a major finals with Ireland is "something I've always dreamt about".

"If you had said to us that we would get to the play-offs and you get to play against Estonia to qualify for the European Championships -- it's one of those things that if you can't beat Estonia home and away then you don't really deserve to be going to the European Championships."

Wenger's faith in Jenkinson

Arsene Wenger is backing 19-year-old Carl Jenkinson to show his mental toughness and solve Arsenal's defensive problem.

Jenkinson is set to come in at right-back against Sunderland this afternoon with Bacary Sagna out for at least three months with a broken leg.

"He's quick, he has good crosses, he is good going forward,'' said Wenger. "He needs to adjust a little bit his defensive game.''

Sligo look to end Bohs' run

BOHEMIANS will be missing four key players -- Liam Burns, Mark Rossiter, Christy Fagan and Anto Flood -- when they host full-strength holders Sligo Rovers in the Ford FAI Cup semi-final at Dalymount Park today (3.30). However, they haven't lost to the Westerners in the League, so this is a tough test for Paul Cook's team, writes Seán Ryan.

Sligo's inability to make possession count has been their downfall on occasions, and they will need striker Eoin Doyle to be at his best after his recent lay-off. A replay might suit Bohs, but Sligo get the vote.

St Patrick's Athletic will be missing suspended foursome, Derek Pender, David Mulcahy, Paul Crowley and Anto Murphy for their semi-final replay with Shelbourne tomorrow at Richmond Park (7.45).

Shels are also minus key players in Lorcan Fitzgerald, Karl Bermingham and Colm James, so Pat's should make home advantage count.

Sweet revenge for Allardyce

Three goals in eight second-half minutes ensured a comfortable 4-0 victory for West Ham over Blackpool which moved the Hammers up to second in the Championship.

John Carew set the Hammers on their way with a 12th-minute header and Blackpool collapsed after the break as a Sam Baldock double and Jack Collison's strike completed the rout.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce had spoken during the week of his bitterness at being dismissed by Blackpool after leading them to the brink of promotion in 1996 and he gained some revenge with a dominant display at Upton Park.

Saints draw

to stay top

Southampton salvaged a point with a 1-1 against Derby at Pride Park thanks to Rickie Lambert's 11th goal of the season to stay top of the Championship.

Theo Robinson opened the scoring for Derby in the third minute when Ben Davies' shot was parried by Saints goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, only for the Derby midfielder to lay the ball to Robinson who fired into the bottom right corner from close range.

Lambert then levelled in the 61st minute.

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