BRAEHEAD CLAN coach Paul Gardner believes his side must emerge victorious in tonight's Challenge Cup semi-final first leg to have any real hope of making the final.

The Renfrewshire club go into the home game with Sheffield Steelers having lost eight of their last nine games, leaving them clinging on to the final play-off spot.

And with third-top Sheffield providing this evening's opposition, Gardner knows Clan must produce the goods on home ice to stand them in good stead for the return next Tuesday.

He said: "I've never been to Sheffield, but I believe getting ahead in the first leg will be so important.

"We've got to win the game, or at least draw. I would hate to go down there with them having a lead.

"We're not favourites so we need a big effort. Everyone has to be on top form."