NEIL LENNON has been caught in a recurring nightmare this season.
The Celtic boss has seen his team stumble from one disaster to another since the second Premiership match of the new campaign when they shed two points in a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The champions, who were bidding for their tenth successive title, were leading through a Ryan Christie effort when Christopher Jullien gave away a needless penalty-kick and veteran winger Chris Burke placed it behind £4.5million debut keeper Vasilis Barkas.
Since that August 9 afternoon in Ayrshire, the Parkhead side have toiled and last night’s 1-0 reverse against Ross County in Dingwall was their fourth league loss of the term, adding to a couple of Rangers wins in the east end of Glasgow and Ibrox and a shocker at home against St Mirren. Including the Killie encounter, there have also been seven draws.
A clearly frustrated Lennon watched in horror as the Highlanders’ huge striker Jordan White was not picked up at a 71st-minute free-kick on the left. The frontman raced away from Diego Laxalt and caught Scott Brown flat-footed as he headed Harry Paton’s deadball past the stranded Scott Bain.
A MAN ALONE…Neil Lennon troops off the Dingwall pitch after the shock loss to the Premiership’s bottom team.
The Hoops boss, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “I can’t do it for them. It wasn’t a problem for us last season, but it’s been a real problem this season with more or less the same personnel.
“You have got to want to go and head the ball, block runners. I don’t see us getting any free headers in the opposition box, but I have seen that plenty of times for us and it’s not been good enough.
“We were zonal and Diego Laxalt has got a job to do on the block, but it’s just too easy. Kristoffer Ajer’s there, Scott Brown’s there, we have enough players to deal with it and we haven’t. It’s not good enough.
“The ball has been in our box one or two times in the second-half and we concede. There’s a softness about us this season.
“We shouldn’t be losing to the bottom team. We shouldn’t be losing the manner of goal we lost again.”
The latest flop leaves Celtic 18 points behind Rangers with eight games left and heightens the prospect of Steven Gerrard’s pacesetters clinching the title at Parkhead on March 21.
SPACE, MAN…Ross County striker Jordan White is unmarked as he heads in the winner.
Reflecting on the match, Lennon added: “It’s a strange one. I think it sort of encapsulates the season, really.
“We’ve dominated the game, we’ve missed some unbelievable chances and then we can’t defend a set-play for some reason. After that, we missed another great couple of chances.
“It’s a head-scratcher for sure, we were totally dominant.
“We came up here and won 5-0 in September and we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we did on this occasion – and we got nothing for it.
“It’s a difficult one to stomach at the moment.”
Celtic’s next Premiership match will be on Saturday when they host fourth-place Aberdeen.