CELTIC chalked up their fifth consecutive Premiership victory on Saturday after surviving scares at the start and end of their clash with Livingston to briefly occupy pole position in the league standings.

A Jason Holt penalty gave the visitors an unlikely lead early on in Glasgow’s east end after Kris Ajer was penalised for hand ball, only for Callum McGregor to restore parity within a matter of minutes when his deflected strike from distance sailed past Robby McCrorie and into the Livingston net.

A well-worked flowing move shortly afterwards resulted in Ryan Christie nudging his side ahead and gave Neil Lennon’s team a lead to defend going into the second half; a lead that was subsequently doubled when Albian Ajeti sprung clear of the Livi defence to curl home his side’s third of the afternoon.

A 30-yard rocket from Monaco loanee Julien Serrano and a late chance spurned by substitute Carlo Pignatiello ensured a nervy conclusion to what should have been a comfortable win for the champions on Saturday, leaving Lennon with plenty to ponder ahead of his side’s trip to Latvia on Thursday for their Europa League qualifier against Riga.

AJETI LOOKS THE REAL DEAL

HeraldScotland:

Celtic supporters have had to be patient with their summer signing, with the 23-year-old steadily building match fitness since sealing a £4.5million switch from the London Stadium just over a month ago, but the forward has wasted no time in making an immediate impression on the club’s fanbase.

Four goals in five outings for the Parkhead club – with three of those appearances coming via the bench – is an excellent return for a player taking his first steps in Scottish football and Lennon will no doubt be encouraged by the Swiss forward’s ability to link up with his team-mates in the final third, his clever positioning and helpful knack of sticking the ball in the back of the net.

From what we’ve seen so far, Ajeti has all the hallmarks of a typical penalty-box striker and with the number of chances Celtic create on a weekly basis it feels almost inevitable that the former West Ham man will continue to put them away.

LENNON NEEDS A NEW LEFT-BACK

HeraldScotland:

Greg Taylor will be pleased with how he got on against Livingston, with his assist for his team’s second a particular highlight from the former Kilmarnock defender and while the 22-year-old lasted the full 90 minutes on Saturday, there remain serious question marks over what Lennon would do if the left-back were to pick up an injury or suspension.

Towards the end of the first half, Taylor went down clutching his leg after taking an apparent knock. He had a quick jog around the park right before the second half got back under way and felt comfortable enough to play the remainder of the game but the incident, while inconsequential on this occasion, underlined the lack of depth in that position at Celtic.

Had Taylor been forced off, either James Forrest or Jermie Frimpong – both right-sided players – would have had to slot in as an auxiliary left-back, which is hardly ideal. Lennon has been up front and public in his demand for a further reinforcements in this area, and Taylor’s near-miss on Saturday showed why Celtic must be expeditious in their pursuit of another defender.

LOPSIDED ATTACK REQUIRES TINKERING

HeraldScotland:

Much of Celtic’s attacking play this season has come down the left – the majority of attacks in every league game bar one have come down this flank – and Saturday was no exception, with 43% of the hosts’ build-up focused on this area of the park.

This preference to favour this side of the pitch can lead to the right wing-back getting isolated for large spells, with first Frimpong and then Forrest struggling to make an impression against Gary Holt’s men.

This lopsided approach isn’t necessarily damaging in and of itself but a less stringent focus on this type of attack would create a greater sense of balance within this Celtic side, and hand the likes of Forrest and Frimpong more influence within the starting XI.

DEFENSIVE ERRORS COULD PROVE COSTLY

HeraldScotland:

Celtic’s win was more routine than the 3-2 scoreline would suggest but Lennon will surely be concerned that a couple of lapses in concentration came close to denying his side a deserved three points.

Ajer’s hand ball was avoidable, Serrano – while his shot was superb – should never have been afforded the space to have a pop and the home side’s defence momentarily switched off for the free header spurned by Pignatiello in the game’s closing stages.

Celtic got away with it on Saturday and were perhaps a little fortunate not to have been punished further – a better side would have made the champions pay dearly for their transgressions.

LIVI MISSING DYKES PRESENCE

HeraldScotland:

It’s hardly surprising that Livingston lost some of their attacking edge with the departure of Lyndon Dykes to Queens Park Rangers yet the recently-capped Scotland internationalist was conspicuous by his absence at the weekend.

Scott Tiffoney was charged with leading the line and the former Morton man’s work-rate was admirable but the forward simply lacks the physicality and hold-up play of his predecessor.

With Anthony Stokes’ whistle-stop tour of West Lothian over already, Holt must find a new option in attack, and soon – with the Lions propping up the rest at the foot of the table, finding a striker that can link the midfield and attack must be an immediate priority.