Pain of last year’s de­feat is mo­ti­va­tion for Clan cap­tain Keith

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY - SCOTT MULLEN

MATT KEITH has urged Brae­head Clan to push through the men­tal pain bar­rier when they once again dip their toe in play-off wa­ters this week­end.

The quar­ter-fi­nal stage of the cam­paign has not been Clan’s happy place in re­cent sea­sons. With the goal of be­ing one of the last four teams to make it to the play-off fi­nals week­end in Not­ting­ham, they have nar­rowly missed out in the last two sea­sons, hav­ing only ever made it once.

The most ex­cru­ci­at­ing of those near misses was thrust upon them 12 months ago by arch ri­vals Fife Fly­ers. Af­ter los­ing the first leg in Kirk­caldy 2-1 with a late, late blow, the knock-out punch was de­liv­ered in over­time by TJ Caig as the Fifers ran out 4-3 win­ners on ag­gre­gate.

It was a de­feat hard to stom­ach as the band of away sup­port­ers cel­e­brated wildly at the Brae­head Arena a year ago yes­ter­day. The pass­ing of time has not faded that pain for Clan cap­tain Keith.

How­ever, as his men now stand on the verge of an­other last eight two-legged knock­out – this time against the Dundee Stars – he is hop­ing to use that heartache as mo­ti­va­tion this time around.

“For the guys who have been here the last two years it’s fresh on our mind, it does bother you and you’d hate for it to hap­pen again,” he said.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing. For ev­ery team that makes it this far it can be hard. For me, you def­i­nitely look back on it and you re­alise how close we were the last two years.

“We want to get over that hump. I’ve been in the game for years but it was hard to take. Last year it was two good teams play­ing hard.

“You just have to use it as mo­ti­va­tion and how you don’t want it to hap­pen again. There’s not much room for er­ror.”

Clan cruised to be­com­ing Gar­diner Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons last month, but the gap be­tween that sil­ver suc­cess and this point has been far from smooth. 200 Ren­field Street, Glas­gow G2 3QB. email: [email protected]­ Tel 0141 302 6590 Head of Sport: Ste­wart Weir

A resur­gent last few months have seen Brae­head pick their game up and Keith is prag­matic about a re­cent dip over their fi­nal hand­ful of games.

He said: “We are pretty healthy and at this time of year every­one is play­ing through bumps and bruises.

“Over­all we feel con­fi­dent. We are go­ing up against a good team that we’ve had good games against. They have a lot of fire­power.

“We need to pre­pare well this week and make sure we are ready to go in Dundee on Satur­day.”

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