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Lennon thrilled as early Forrest strike makes it five wins from five for Celtic

Neil Lennon praised his Celtic team for overcoming difficult conditions at Hamilton to record their best start to a league season for nine years.

James Forrest’s early goal earned Celtic a 1-0 win which secured a fifth victory out of their first five games for the first time since Lennon’s first full season in charge in 2010-11, when they won their opening eight.

Celtic were completely dominant in the first half without cutting their hosts open often but Hamilton made a game of it after Forrest hit the bar just after the break, although Fraser Forster was untroubled in the Hoops goal.

Lennon said: “It’s a case of three points; a very good performance in difficult conditions; five wins out of five, which we have not done for a long time at the start of a season; a clean sheet, a third out of five. We are playing very, very well.

“My only tinge of regret is we have not scored more. Jamesy hit the bar, he had a fantastic game. And you can see the pitch dried up with the wind, it slowed the pitch right down.

“And you have to give credit to Hamilton, who set their stall out very well to be difficult to beat. In terms of being a spectacle, it takes two teams to make a game but we did all the running and there was no anxiety at all.

“So I am thrilled. You can see how difficult it is to do because we haven’t done it for a decade. So that’s a brilliant start to the season.”

Lennon had warned his summer signings about the difficulties of playing on Hamilton’s artificial surface.

“We showed them it on Friday, we said they are coming from 50,000 at Ibrox and the magnitude of the game and then you are going to the Fountain of Youth Stadium where you don’t know what the conditions are going to be like.

“Obviously there’s no moisture, they don’t sprinkle the pitch. I think they should but they are not going to do it for our benefit.

“Then the pitch becomes slower and it doesn’t become conducive to the way you want to play, but Hamilton aren’t here to roll over and let us tickle their tummies, they are here to make life as difficult as possible. But we negotiated the conditions and the game very comfortably in the end.”

Hamilton head coach Brian Rice took plenty of positives from the game.

“My biggest concern was not having enough belief to go toe-to-toe with Celtic and I saw we had that to a man,” he added.

“To lose an early goal against Celtic was criminal and suicidal but the response I got was immense. I told them it was easy to capitulate and fall apart but we didn’t do that.

“We stuck by one another, we kept to our shape and we kept to the game plan – keep in the game as long as we can, frustrate Celtic and freshen it up early in the second half and have a bit more of a go.

“We did that and I don’t think anyone could say we didn’t try and get the goal back.”

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