Neil Lennon was delighted with the response his Celtic side showed after their weekend woes with a 4-0 win against managerless Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Lennon admitted the damaging 2-1 home defeat against St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday was a new low for him. He made five changes for the trip to Ayrshire and the captain, Scott Brown – returning from his two-game suspension – got the visitors up and running when he headed the champions ahead in the 29th minute.
Odsonne Edouard converted a penalty in the 51st minute and the French striker grabbed his second 10 minutes later, with Albian Ajeti adding a fourth with three minutes remaining to take Celtic 20 points behind the leaders Rangers with a game in hand.
Lennon said: “I got the reaction I wanted. It was the polar opposite of what we produced on Saturday. People were criticising me for jagging the team but they needed the jag to be honest, and we got a great performance and a great result. The body language, their attacking play, the concentration, was so much better. That is more like us so we have to build on that from here on in.”
There was no surprise Lennon rang the changes following the St Mirren defeat with a debut for the right-back Jonjoe Kenny, who arrived on loan from Everton on deadline day, with Brown, Stephen Welsh, Ryan Christie and Ajeti back in the side.
Lennon said: “Ryan is a good player, he has been a bit off the boil but he played well tonight. Ajeti’s work ethic hasn’t been great and he hasn’t been in the best condition but he has got himself there and he played well.
“Jonjoe coming in played very well on his debut. We had to be patient to get a right-back in after [Jeremie] Frimpong left and that puts [Kris] Ajer back in there [centre-back]. Young Welsh had a good game and Browny looked more like himself. It was a good performance, a very good performance, we played well and it could have been more so I am delighted.”
Kilmarnock’s head of football operations, James Fowler, and his assistant, Andy Millen, were in the home dugout after Alex Dyer had departed following the defeat by St Johnstone at the weekend and they watched the Ayrshire side slump to a fourth successive defeat.
Fowler said: “Overall we’re disappointed to lose the game 4-0, we created enough chances to score at least a couple of goals ourselves. I’ve seen some of the goals back and certainly when you look at their second, I don’t think it’s a penalty.
“Speaking to the fourth official, he said the referee and the linesman were having a conversation and there was a delay in the award, so that tells its own story. The third looks as though it could be offside as well so that’s the frustrating part, those big moments in games.
“We had spoken as a staff to potentially change the shape at half-time, and to lose a goal so early that I don’t think should have been a penalty, that’s frustrating.”
Livingston extend unbeaten run
Livingston continued their superb form under David Martindale as they beat Aberdeen 2-0 to stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games. An own goal from the goalkeeper Joe Lewis and Nicky Devlin’s header in the opening 16 minutes earned the visitors a victory which moved them to within five points of their hosts, who dropped to fourth place in the table.
Hibernian climbed above them into third after Ryan Porteous reiterated his commitment to the club in a 2-1 victory against 10-man St Mirren. The hosts had been well on top before Jake Doyle-Hayes’ blunder led to the goalkeeper Jak Alnwick being sent off, although they did pull a late goal back through the substitute Jon Obika.