Celtic boss Neil Lennon left "exasperated" at decisions in Hearts clash

By David Walton

December 19, 2019

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has claimed that he was left exasperated by some of the decisions of Bobby Madden last night.

The referee had a highly frustrating night in terms of his decision-making. Madden was full of inconsistencies and seemed to flash his yellow card whenever he could.

Come full-time, six players had been booked. Perhaps the most mind-boggling was Kristoffer Ajer’s, who was cautioned for what appeared to be no other reason than he gave a Hearts man a slight push.

Bobby Madden was frustrating last night (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

It seemed that he was desperate to lay his authority down on the match, but it came across as excessive. And speaking post-match in the Daily Record, Lennon didn’t seem too keen on his performance:

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“I was exasperated, yes. We’ll leave it at that. The referee is a top referee… I’m allowed to get exasperated at some decisions sometimes.

“I was so pleased with a lot of the performances tonight. More importantly the manner we approached the game because we knew Hearts would be up and at it, and they were.

“It puts pressure on the rest of the teams around us to win their games. That’s what we set out to do tonight, win the game, and we’ve done that with a bit of style as well.”

Card-happy Madden not enough to halt Celtic juggernaut

You can only credit Celtic as a whole for their performance yesterday as they didn’t let Madden get to them. He had several real howlers when it came to his decisions, yet Celtic never looked rattled.

The likes of Ryan Christie turned up when we needed them to last night (Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

It wasn’t a game that lacked bite – far from it. However, at the same time, there have been plenty of Hearts-Celtic games that were more on the edge with challenges than this one. Scott Brown was booked for his first challenge, whilst several Hearts players got away with a few before being cautioned.

The inconsistency in the decision-making in Scotland has been a problem for years. This isn’t anything new, but even so it still remains a huge frustration.

Lennon is clearly just delighted with what he saw from his side. He’s now racked up 19 wins from 22 meetings with the Tynecastle club, and nine out of 11 trips to Gorgie too. He has Hearts by the throat in this fixture, and last night was no different.

Celtic won at yet another tough ground last night (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It wasn’t a game where Hearts got no joy, but it was exactly the kind of display that showed what this Celtic team is all about even when they’re not at their best. Lennon is quite right to be frustrated at some of the decisions yesterday, but the fact it didn’t have an effect on our performance is tremendously impressive.

Yesterday feels like a big win as we managed to open up a five-point gap in the Premiership. It’s yet another tough trip ticked off.