How ‘Scottish football’s N’Golo Kante’ helped Livingston thwart Celtic despite having a budget 40 times smaller

Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi, left, battles for the ball with Stephane Omeonga of Livingston

Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi, left, battles for the ball with Stephane Omeonga of Livingston 

DAVID Martindale last night claimed Stephane Omeonga was Scottish football’s N’Golo Kante – and praised the Belgian midfielder for helping Livingston to earn a point against opponents with 40 times their budget.

Former Hibernian player Omeonga was outstanding in the middle of the park as the West Lothian outfit secured a 0-0 draw against Celtic in a cinch Premiership match at Parkhead yesterday. 

Martindale, whose team has now gone four games undefeated, made no apologies for the defensive tactics the visitors adopted and praised his summer signing for embracing his game plan fully.

“Stephane is a proper Livingston player,” he said. “Someone shouted at me in the dug-out: ‘That must be enjoyable to watch every week’.

“Well, you’ve got a £55 million budget against a £1.3 million budget. We have to come up with different ways to try and win a game.

“That’s where Stephane fits into our structure. He’s Scottish football’s N’Golo Kante. He’s getting fitter and learning more about Livingston’s style and what I’m looking for.”

Meanwhile, Martindale admitted that Livingston defender Ayo Obileye deserved to be sent off after lashing out at Kyogo Furuhashi in injury-time and giving away a penalty that Max Stryjek saved.

“I didn’t see it,” he said. “Everyone informs me that Ayo has lifted his hands and it’s a sending off. So I’ll deal with that internally.

“I’ll see him on Monday. If we’d have lost that game, I’d have spoken to him in the changing room. But I won’t turn a massive positive experience into a negative.

“He’s a good, honest lad who has been brilliant for us. If he’s lifted his hands, it’s a learning curve for him.

“I won’t stand for it and Livingston won’t stand for it because he could have let his team mates down today. But it’s his first year in the Premiership. I’ll address it on Monday and it’ll get put to bed.

“It would have been an injustice if the other 12 players came away from that with nothing. Max was unbelievable because there was a lot of pressure on him to pull off that save.”

Meanwhile, Martindale admitted that he had wanted referee Bobby Madden to give Livingston a penalty when Obileye went down after a challenge by Celtic keeper Joe Hart in the second-half.

“I wanted the penalty,” he said. “I was shouting for it, but I’d probably be moaning if it was against me. Steven McLean, the fourth official, says it wasn’t a pen so that’s good enough for me.”

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