sport

Lennon: Kilmarnock due credit

St Mirren manager Danny Lennon believes the reaction to Kenny Shiels' comments deprive his Kilmarnock team of the praise he feels they deserve.

Shiels has just returned from a three-match touchline ban received for comments made about match officials and faces another Scottish Football Association hearing early this year after accusing fourth official Andrew Dallas of an "outrageous fabrication" of evidence.

Shiels remained defiant after his latest charge but Kilmarnock were unaffected by his absence from the touchline and travel to St Mirren Park unbeaten in four difficult fixtures against Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibernian and Motherwell, which left them in the top six in the Scottish Premier League.

And Lennon feels the furore surrounding Shiels' statements has taken some credit away from the Scottish Communities League Cup holders, although some of the Northern Irishman's remarks appear designed to remove the pressure from his players.

Lennon said: "For me, a lot of Kilmarnock's success is overshadowed by the media's relationship with the manager.

"Because he is so open in everything that he says, they try and make a full story out of it. Sometimes that deflects from the success Kilmarnock have had.

"If you look at Kilmarnock's season so far, they are in a better position, they have more points, have scored more goals, have conceded less goals, and they play football in the manner in which I believe it should be played in.

"For me, Kenny and his players don't get the credit I feel they deserve."

St Mirren can peg Kilmarnock back tomorrow though having gone on a run of just one defeat, against Celtic, in seven SPL games after suffering a six-match losing run following the blow of losing key pair Darren McGregor and Paul McGowan to injury.

McGowan is now back following his shoulder problem and St Mirren could hand a debut to Newcastle midfielder Conor Newton against Kilmarnock after agreeing a loan deal.

Lennon said: "We have got ourselves right back in there amongst the pack. The league table doesn't lie, the hardest thing is to go out there and score goals and put points on the board.

"That is something we want to continue. We had two fantastic victories here against Kilmarnock last season and that's something we want to continue going into the new year."