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‘OUR PITCH WAS FINE, COUNTY DESERVE PRAISE, CELTIC DIDN’T PERFORM,’ COYLE’S CONCLUSIONS

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OWEN COYLE has fired back at the criticism that Ross County’s pitch was below standard for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Celtic at the Global Energy Stadium.

Coyle, who replaced the 2016 League Cup winning manager Jim McIntyre in late September, was adamant that blaming the pitch was merely an excuse for a sub-par performance from the champions.

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“The pitch was fine. When you don’t perform the way you want, which we never allowed Celtic to do, it is an easy thing to throw out there.

“What I would say is the pitch was the same for both teams. We, at times, got the ball down and passed and moved it.

Coyle may also have been taking gardening advice from Scotland’s highest paid gardener of all time, who was a BT Sports pundit at the game on Saturday.

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“We have a good surface. At the stage of the year we’re at, the grass is not going to grow any more anyway. We’re not in the middle of spring when the shoots are popping through.”

The 51-year-old made his support for the club’s groundsman clear and said that the pitch was adequate for both teams to play.

“For me, it isn’t an issue. I think if there was a problem it would have been said before the game and it wasn’t. Brendan and his lads came in after the game, we had a good chat and nothing was mentioned so it is what it is.

“People will always have different opinions on the game, the pitch and everything else, but it played no part in how the game was played.

“The ball was there to pass and move regardless of the surface.

“In this country, we play on a variety of pitches. We went to Kilmarnock on the artificial surface in my first game and won. We got on with it, because that’s what you do. Whatever challenge you undertake, you have to be ready for it.

“I think our groundsman does a fantastic job – he really is a workaholic. It was a cold day and a lot of factors come into play but, for me, it isn’t an issue.”

Leigh Griffiths scored a brilliant free-kick to give Celtic the points. Later in the day the three sides directly below Celtic in the Premiership all lost.

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Celtic are currently in Paris ahead of this evening’s UEFA Champions League clash with PSG before returning to play in the Betfred Cup Final against Motherwell at Hampden on Sunday.

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