David Martindale: Two big decisions went against us, says Livingston boss, as Celtic end long win for win in West Lothian

Livingston manager David Martindale felt two big decisions going against his team allowed Celtic to win in West Lothian for the first time in 15 years.

Livingston manager David Martindale gestures on the touchline during the cinch Premiership match at the Tony Macaroni Arena against Celtic
Livingston manager David Martindale gestures on the touchline during the cinch Premiership match at the Tony Macaroni Arena against Celtic

Celtic's 3-1 win was their first victory at the Tony Macaroni Arena in six matches and restored their three-point lead over Rangers in the cinch Premiership.

Martindale sensed Celtic and others had made the game a big occasion given the visitors' recent record in the fixture.

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"There was a different atmosphere leading up to the game," he said. "You felt it was a big occasion whereas before coming to Livingston has been slightly played down.

Celtic's James Forrest makes it 3-0

"You could see from the reaction of their fans how much the game meant to them."

Martindale was frustrated at some of referee Nick Walsh's decisions, firstly when Ralston appeared to run the ball out only for the officials to rule that Jason Holt had touched it last. Maeda scored from the resulting corner.

"I don't think we deserved a lot more from the game, but two big decisions went against us which led to two goals," Martindale said.

"The first one was a blatant bye-kick. You still have to defend the corner a lot better than we did.

Livingston's Andrew Shinnie grabs a late consolation

"For the second goal, there is a handball by Rogic in the middle of the park, Nick is standing watching it and we don't get that. Again, we still have to defend the area better than we did.

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"I don't think these decisions changed the result, but they changed the dynamics of the game."

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised his players for "hunting in packs" and putting Livingston under pressure.

Postecoglou said: "The players knew it was a challenge. They went about it the right way and didn't shy away from it.

"The boys who came in brought some energy with James (Forrest) and Tom (Rogic), Niro (Bitton) and Tony Ralston. These guys have had three games in a week, so it was important for us to maintain our energy. We set the right tempo and intent from the first minutes.

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"That was important. We have spoken about it a lot. We need to be the ones who generate tempo.

"It is hard sometimes when the opposition sit deeper, but as good as were with the ball I thought we were outstanding without it.

"We hunted in packs, we won the ball and we didn't give them a moment's rest.

"They are a big side, so if you allow balls into the box then it gives them some threat and our defensive work was excellent.

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"Our football when we had the ball was good. We were patient when we needed to be but we could hurt them when we needed to."

Daizen Maeda headed Celtic ahead from close range in the 17th minute, two minutes after Callum McGregor had missed a penalty, and a Nicky Devlin own goal doubled the lead moments after the second half started.

Forrest fired his first league goal of the season before Andrew Shinnie got a quickfire consolation.

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