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It was NOT a dive and Stokesy has scars to prove it; SAYS SCOTT BROWN.

Byline: Alam Marshall

CELTIC captain Scott Brown has joined Neil Lennon in accusing ref Willie Collum of costing the Hoops the first trophy of the season - and a possible Treble.

The midfielder, like his boss, claimed the Parkhead club should have been awarded an injury-time penalty in Sunday's League Cup Final against Kilmarnock when Anthony Stokes went to ground under a tackle by Michael Nelson.

Trailing 1-0 at the time to sub Dieter Van Tornhout's header, Brown thought Celtic were about to be handed a lifeline but watched in disbelief as Collum booked Stokes for simulation.

The final whistle sounded soon afterwards to end Celtic's Treble dreams with the trophy heading to Rugby Park for the first time ever.

Angry Parkhead gaffer Lennon afterwards described Collum's refusal to point to the spot as "criminal" and his skipper's response to the call was no less emphatic.

Brown said: "We should have had a penalty. Everyone knew what was happening, their coaches knew as well but the ref somehow didn't see it.

"It was definitely not a dive and Stokes has the scars to prove it. That would have taken it to extra-time had we scored it and we were in the driving seat at that time."

Celtic's first defeat in 27 domestic games was down to a combination of profligacy and a man-of-the-match display by Cammy Bell.

After making a crucial early save from Gary Hooper, the Killie keeper denied Stokes later in the first-half with a great save before thwarting Brown, Victor Wanyama, Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons.

Brown said: "Over the 90 minutes we were the better side but their keeper played very well. We just didn't get the ball in the back of the net.

TREBLE

"We've been flying recently but we knew it would be difficult against Kilmarnock."

Lennon was hoping to become the first person to win the Treble as a player and manager, having been a part of Martin O'Neill's Celtic side that cleaned up in 2000-01.

Celtic could clinch the SPL title this Sunday against Rangers at Ibrox and are in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, where the play either St Mirren or Hearts.

But Lennon won't give up on his dream of a clean sweep.

He said: "It was disappointing.

We came close last year, we've come closer this year. We'll try to go one closer next year.

"But this has been a fantastic season. The standards set by the players mean that there is a huge disappointment that we won't win the Treble.

"That is the standard that they have set in the last 18 months."

CAPTION(S):

BIG CALL Brown, left, says Collum got it wrong FLASHPOINT Stokes goes down in box under tackle from Nelson
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 20, 2012
Words:456
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