Football - Wright hits back over MacLean

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright defended Steven MacLean after Neil Lennon claimed the striker was looking for a penalty in the 2-1 defeat to Celtic.

PA Sport Report

Saints were claiming a spot-kick after Anthony Stokes challenged MacLean but Hoops chief Lennon said: ""It was never a penalty. Steven has a tendency to go down easy at times."

But Wright retorted: "If he (Lennon) is indicating it was simulation, I have never known him (Steven) to be booked for that and players do tend to go down under a challenge.

"I thought it was a free-kick, I couldn't see if it was inside the box from where I was but I thought it was a foul.

"Steven said he had no reason to go down and he is an honest lad.

"There is no chance it was a dive. I don't know exactly what Neil said but I have a golden rule, I don't comment on opposition players, maybe Neil shouldn't comment on mine."

Celtic eased into a comfortable interval lead through goals by Finnish striker Teemu Pukki, making his first start for his new club, and midfielder Charlie Mulgrew.

The second half was mostly a non-event until Saints substitute Liam Caddis, on for David Wotherspoon, bundled in a Dave MacKay cross with nine minute remaining before another St Johnstone replacement, Stevie May, hit the post in added time with the Hoops hanging on for the final whistle.

Wright claimed his side could have taken a point following their positive end to the match.

He said: "We didn't work hard enough in the first half. I don't know if the players showed them too much respect.

"I thought we were much better in the second half and truth to be told, we could probably grabbed a draw at the end."

Wright, though, took umbrage at being quizzed as to why May, one of Saints best players this season, started on the bench.

He said: "We were doing well before we brought Stevie on.

"There is no issue. I didn't pick him. That's the team I put out against Rosenborg, aside from Nigel Hasselbaink for Chris Millar.

"Because Stevie May was left out you want to make an issue, there is no issue."

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