Referee does his best to take centre stage
It was a tense night but Paddy McCourt has ensured Celtic are top of the SPL as 2010 turns into 2011. McCourt has brightened up the season with a number of cracking goals this season and his first half strike was another great strike to add to the list.
By this point, Celtic should have been out of sight with a host of squandered chances but the usual failing of the Parkhead side yet again let them down. Unless Gary Hooper returns quickly or someone steps up to the plate, Neil Lennon needs to get a goal-scorer in during the January transfer window.
Motherwell got back into the game through a combination of digging deep and Celtic suffering an injury to Olivier Kapo which led to the introduction of Daryl Muphy, who is looking as far removed from a footballer as you will see in the SPL. Celtic switched to a 4-4-2 and lost all of their vigour and momentum and this continued until injury saw Murphy removed in the second half.
Neil Lennon has a lot to think about for Sunday but surely he must realise that some formation which sees 5 across the middle of the park, in whatever variation, will give his side the best chance of being solid at Ibrox.
The second half raged on with players on both sides losing the plot, all of which can be blamed on the man in the middle.
How Keith Laley remained on the park is a mystery which is unlikely to be solved and Stephen Craigan’s last minute challenge on Anthony Stokes was deserving of a yellow card, which would have seen him sent off.
The issue of Scott Brown’s second yellow will no doubt be the subject of much debate. First of all, Brown gave the referee the opportunity to send him off, which proves that he hasn’t learned a thing. There is a madness about Scott Brown and the player continually lets himself down by getting involved when he doesn’t need to and this has seen his club suffer on many occasions.
In saying that, that doesn’t appear to be the case this time as Brown does appear to have been unlucky with the decision.
After rushing into the challenge, Brown appears to attempt to pull out of the challenge but heyho, it was yet another decision in which the referee Finnie made which ensured he was the centre of attention.
Video footage of Scott Brown’s challenge can be seen at this page: Scott Brown second yellow Is it another honest mistake or did the referee have no option?
No matter what your take on Brown’s second yellow is, the referee’s performance was nothing short of farcical but this is totally in fitting with the season.
Let’s not forget that we are only a few days on from Nial McGinn being denied a stone-wall penalty when the score was 0-0 with minutes to go and the blunders keep coming. Tonight, the number of baffling decisions from the man in black was highly concerning, particularly an assault on Mark Wilson which wasn’t even considered a foul. If Neil Lennon has any consistency, he should be firing off a letter to the SFA asking for clarification if Finnie was handed the Celtic Park game after getting a whistle in his Christmas cracker.
Then again, Neil Lennon has dodged any flak by refusing to comment on the decision any more than stating that everyone saw the performance by the ref and they can make their own mind up.
So, Celtic are top on paper but the side still looks a long way off being a confident and complete side. Neil Lennon will be looking to strengthen in January but with the 2nd of January looming large, there may not be enough time for Lennon to gel his new team in time to remain on top at the turning of the year.