Lennon inspires Hoops to draw

16 October 2011 07:35

Neil Lennon admitted he gave the most important half-time team talk of his managerial career to help Celtic come back from the dead to draw 3-3 against Kilmarnock 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 Anthony 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.

Lennon said: "I was really angry as I walked off and I thought to myself, 'this is probably your biggest test yet, go and see what you can do and see if you get a response from your players'. Another defeat and the manner in which we were playing would have been pretty difficult for me to take."

He added: "So I was angry as I could possibly be. The defence was very poor, the midfield was poor and the two front boys were poor so as a collective performance it was nowhere near acceptable.

"Thankfully we did respond but it was nothing to do with tactics or anything like that it is about motivating the players and pushing them to dig deep to get something out of the game. I asked them to find the belief, the will, the guts to dig deep and get something out of the game and they did that.

Kenny Shiels would not blame Heffernan for the striker's last-gasp miss which would have given the home side three points.

The Killie boss said: "He knows he should have scored and a player of his quality and natural goalscoring instincts, as he showed in the first half, normally puts them away because even though he is small he is good in the air. So I would have expected him to score and he would as well but we don't hammer him."

The Northern Irishman was pleased by the way his side continued to play even when their lead was being chipped away.

"When you are 3-0 up after 72 minutes you are looking to get the three points," he said. "But when it is against the Old Firm there is always quality in there which means they can get back into the game.

"But it wasn't as if Celtic's goals came from incessant pressure. It wasn't like that, we had two good chances at 3-3 which was testament to the players' character that they didn't sit back and look for a point."

Source: PA

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