ANGE POSTECOGLOU’S winning sequence at Hampden came to an abrupt and unexpected halt in extra-time of the semi-final in the Scottish Cup last season.

The Greek-Australian’s hopes of completing the treble were ended with an unfortunate own goal from Carl Starfelt after Greg Taylor, with his first strike for the club, had given the Hoops the advantage against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side.

Joe Hart was left helpless when Scott Arfield levelled after some slack play in the Hoops defence and the 75 times-capped England international had no chance when the Swede deflected in a left-wing cross.

DISAPPOINTMENT…Ange Postecoglou cuts a dejected figure on the touchline as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side hold on for an extra-time win in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final.

It was an awful way to bring down the curtain on Postecoglou’s visits to the national stadium that had seen a 1-0 victory over St Johnstone in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final and a 2-1 triumph over Hibs in in the showpiece showdown in December 2021 as the new gaffer got his hands on silverware for the first time.

Reflecting on the loss in the Scottish Cup in April last year, the manager is determined to use the memory to spur on his players against Kilmarnock in the Viaplay League Cup semi-final at the same venue tomorrow night.

Postecoglou said defiantly: “You use it as fuel because you can’t dismiss these things.

“A lot of sport is about how you overcome challenges and things that haven’t worked out in the past and it’s how you address that – losing a semi-final last year wasn’t an enjoyable experience for all of us.

“Our players are prepared for that, they like that challenge and from their perspective, they’re looking forward to it to test themselves.”

FLAG HAPPY…Greg Taylor celebrates his first Celtic goal in the Scottish Cup semi-final as Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt head back for the kick-off.

On a much happier note, the manager looked at the trophy success last term and, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It helped us accelerate some of our learnings.

“It was in the first three or four months and at that time we were still very much in the embryonic stage of even putting a team together, let alone a squad.

“Through that time you try and hope that people will have belief in what you’re doing and the road you’re undertaking.

“With myself being new in the building, winning a trophy so early I think gets you buy in a lot quicker and people gain more belief in what we’re trying to do.

“It certainly helped the playing group because it was a new playing group with a new captain and it helped me gain the trust of everyone in the football club and with our supporters.”

The Hoops go into the match against the Rugby Park club after a 2-0 win over them in the league in Glasgow last weekend which followed the collection of three points in Ayrshire in August as the visitors eased to a 5-0 victory.

PRIZE GUY…Ange Postecoglou proudly holds aloft the newly-won Premier Sports League Cup trophy after the 2-1 win over Hibs at Hampden in December 2021.

Postecoglou added: “There’s a consistency in the squad) that’s reflected in our trajectory over the last 12 to 14 months.

“We’ve been consistent in performances because we go into every game with a similar mindset and no game is of greater importance than the other.

“I think when you get to the ground tomorrow the players will get that feeling that it’s not just another league game with three points, there’s more than this.”

The Final of the competition is scheduled for Hampden on Sunday February 26 and Postecoglou is determined the holders will be there to defend the trophy against either Jim Goodwin’s Aberdeen or Michael Beale’s Ibrox side who meet in their last-four clash on Sunday afternoon.

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