Dont let up Lennon tells players

17 February 2014 01:31

Celtic manager Neil Lennon says he wants his players to be relentless in their pursuit of the Scottish Premiership title as his side opened up a 21 point lead at the top of the table following a comfortable 3-0 win over St Johnstone on Sunday.

Irish striker Anthony Stokes scored a hat-trick in his 100th game for the Hoops as he helped the Glasgow giants to their 14th win in a row in the league.

The Scottish champions have yet to taste defeat in 25 league matches so far and Lennon, who picked up the 150th win of his managerial career, felt it was the perfect response to the disappointment of being dumped out of the Scottish Cup last weekend to Aberdeen.

"I thought the attitude and quality of performance from start to finish was fantastic," Lennon said.

"It was a difficult couple of days after the disappointment of last Saturday but that's given me a huge boost.

"It makes last week even more of an aberration really when you see the way we played today. It was a brilliant team performance and I couldn't be happier with the reaction I got from the players and the performance.

"We've been playing so well for six or seven weeks now but we've just got to put the Aberdeen result behind us. We've got over it and we have moved on. We're unbeaten and the clean sheet run is still going so it was a great performance.

"The runs and records are still intact and they are incentives for the players. We want to be relentless in our pursuit of the title and I think the players made that pretty clear today."

Stokes opened the scoring at Celtic Park in the 16th minute with a low dipping shot before two goals in two second half minutes made sure of the win for the Hoops.

The striker has only managed to bag 10 league goals in a frustrating season but his manager praised his overall contribution to the team.

"He is a good player and he just needs to be more consistent," Lennon said. "But overall this season he has been excellent and he is getting the goals now his performances deserve.

"He has played very well in the last month or so. He got a very good goal last week and he has followed that up with three today. I think the introduction of Leigh Griffiths to the team has given him that little bit more incentive but I have been delighted with his performances.

"He has always had goals in him and he has proved that over the past four years he has been here."

Celtic also equalled Aberdeen's Scottish record of 12 consecutive league clean sheets, set in 1970/71, and Fraser Forster is now just 30 minutes short of Bobby Clark's Scottish record of 1155 minutes without conceding.

However, Forster had to be alert ten minutes from time against St Johnstone as he stuck out a foot to keep out a deflected Nigel Hasselbaink shot to keep his long shut-out record in the league intact.

And Lennon was fulsome in his praise of the English goalkeeper.

"It was a brilliant save. The ball was going one way and he was moving the other and he just managed to stick a leg out and keep the record intact," Lennon said.

"It shows his value to the team and what a great goalkeeper he is. He will be delighted with that."

Source: AFP

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