August 2, 2021

Ajeti has diving ban overturned

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Celtic striker Albian Ajeti has been cleared of diving to win a penalty against Kilmarnock.

The Switzerland international was accused of causing referee Kevin Clancy to wrongly award the Hoops a spot-kick during their 4-0 Scottish Premiership victory at Rugby Park last Tuesday and faced a two-match ban.

However, the charge of simulation was found “not proved” during a disciplinary hearing, meaning Ajeti is free to play in Celtic’s trip to St Mirren on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.

With Celtic leading 1-0 through a Scott Brown goal, Ajeti tumbled to the ground inside the penalty area early in the second half as Killie goalkeeper Colin Doyle came out to challenge.

Ismaila Soro 0:24
Neil Lennon says Ismalia Soro could miss Celtic’s game with St Mirren after being involved in a minor car accident but James Forrest has returned to training

Odsonne Edouard converted the penalty and the French striker grabbed his second 10 minutes later, with Ajeti adding a fourth with three minutes remaining.

Earlier in the day, before the outcome was revealed, Hoops boss Neil Lennon reiterated his belief that Ajeti was innocent but admitted he had prepared for the match against St Mirren in Paisley on Wednesday night with the player both in and out of the team.

He said: “We will wait then decide what the team will be. We have prepared both [in and out].

“I have made my thoughts on it pretty clear, what the outcome should be, but you just don’t know.

“I have seen it, there is definite contact.

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“You can’t really call it simulation. Simulation is when there is no contact and we have seen plenty of that over the years and we don’t encourage that at all.

“But as a striker who is running very quickly and the goalkeeper is coming across his line as well, there is contact.

“You can’t gauge the force that hits you at, at that speed, I’m not a physicist, or scientist, but I don’t know how they can come to the conclusion that Albian conned the referee in that instance.”

Mike Dean, Spurs vs Man City 0:50
Lennon says the abuse Premier League referee Mike Dean has received is ‘absolutely appalling’

Meanwhile, Rangers striker Kemar Roofe’s fast-track hearing has been put back 24 hours.

Roofe was due to learn his fate following his lunge on St Johnstone midfielder Murray Davidson but the hearing has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

The forward was booked for the challenge but subsequently accused of serious foul play, with a two-match ban awaiting him if Rangers fail to successfully challenge the charge.

Lennon had ‘choice words’ after St Mirren loss

Neil Lennon
Image: Lennon is happier with the ‘energy and body language’ of his Celtic players

Neil Lennon revealed “a few choice words” after Celtic’s recent defeat to St Mirren elicited the response required ahead of the rematch.

The Hoops boss described the 2-1 Scottish Premiership defeat by the Buddies on January 30 – Celtic’s first home loss to Saints since April 1990 – as “the lowest point” of his two spells as Parkhead boss.

The Celtic manager let his players know the extent of his disappointment and they responded with back-to-back wins for the first time this year against Kilmarnock and Motherwell, albeit they still remain 21 points behind league leaders Rangers with two games in hand.

Celtic v St. Mirren 2:18
Highlights of St Mirren’s win at Celtic Park on January 30

“The previous two performances have been very good,” said the Northern Irishman, who revealed midfielder Ismaila Soro will be assessed after crashing his car due to weather conditions on Tuesday morning.

“It is difficult to put my finger on the performance against St Mirren. We just didn’t seem to have that zip about us at all and we lacked concentration at times as well.

“I had a few choice words, that was all. I told them I was bitterly disappointed.

“I haven’t had to do that many times in my second spell [as boss] and I’ve had a good reaction so far.

“Obviously the game has come around quickly and I am looking for a far better performance than we got at Celtic Park and build on the two recent performances.”