Thomp­son rues ‘soft goals’ as Steel­ers’ top-two hopes dented

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT - PHIL HAR­RI­SON

SH­EFFIELD STEEL­ERS’ head coach Paul Thomp­son was left to lament a “soft” de­feat to Elite League ri­vals Brae­head Clan, fur­ther hurt­ing his side’s chances of se­cur­ing a top-two reg­u­lar sea­son fin­ish.

With eight games re­main­ing, the Steel­ers are eight points adrift of se­cond-placed Manch­ester Storm, who them­selves trail lead­ers and de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Cardiff Devils by eight points.

A long road trip to Glas­gow on a bit­terly cold day was al­ways likely to present a tough as­sign­ment, par­tic­u­larly with their Scot­tish hosts locked in a des­per­ate three­way bat­tle with Coven­try Blaze and Dundee Stars se­cure the eighth and last play-off spot avail­able.

It proved to be the case, with the visi­tors left chas­ing the game af­ter Brae­head struck twice in as many se­cond pe­riod min­utes around the half­way mark, Lan­don Os­lanksi’s 29th-minute opener be­ing quickly fol­lowed by Bren­dan Brooks’s strike.

The Steel­ers halved the deficit in the 35th minute through Mi­ika Franssila and were again quick to re­spond through Eric Nei­ley at 44.30 af­ter Craig Cescon had re­stored the Clan’s two-goal lead 53 sec­onds ear­lier.

But as the Steel­ers con­tin­ued to push for a third equalis- er, Craig Pea­cock stretched the home side’s lead yet again with just 63 sec­onds re­main­ing on the clock, with Adam Brace seal­ing two vi­tal points with an empty net strike at 19.13.

“We had chances early on but we were soft around the net, around both nets and once again didn’t take our chances” said head coach Thomp­son, for who the only bright spot on the night was the re­turn of for­ward Rob Dowd af­ter two months out in­jured.

“We give up soft goals de­fen­sively and no­body is chang­ing a game for us, no one right now.

“We knew they would be des­per­ate with their play-off sit­u­a­tion and they were. I’d hoped af­ter the week we had that we would be fresh and des­per­ate, but we weren’t.

“Ev­ery time we have had a chal­lenge this year we have failed. This was a great chance for us to bat­tle and col­lect two road points and move up the ta­ble.”

PAUL THOMP­SON: Sh­effield Steel­ers coach un­happy af­ter de­feat at Brae­head Clan.

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