Preview: Airdrieonians vs East Fife
November 16, 2018
Chris O’Neil hopes to make his 100th Airdrie appearance against East Fife on Saturday, but the defender says a home win is all that matters.
The full-back returned to the starting line-up for the trip to Stranraer last weekend, and his 99th appearance in the Diamond was a successful one as Airdrie recorded a 2-1 win.
The 23-year-old, now in his second spell at the club after two years at Brechin City and a return on loan, feels like a veteran after making his debut at the age of 17.
“It feels like it’s taken a long time! There have been some great highlights… my debut against Livingston on a Friday night was mad.
“Playing against Rangers here was amazing, even though they hammered us. Playing in the atmosphere of a full stadium was great.”
There have been plenty of ups and downs for O’Neil over his five years at the club, and the same could be said for the current season. After two narrow home defeats, the Diamonds got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win at Stair Park last Saturday.
“It was a brilliant win, and it was good to be part of it - I’ve not been playing as much as I’d like but I can’t complain because big Robbo’s been doing so well.
“We needed the win after the last two results at home. I like playing there because the park’s tighter and I prefer playing on grass, but whether we’re home or away the pitch is the same for both teams so we can’t use that as an excuse.”
The recent run typifies Airdrie’s season so far, with only one home league win for the Diamonds so far. Results on the road have been better, but O’Neil can’t explain the inconsistency.
“It’s a weird one - last season our home record was much better, and this year it’s our away record.
“I don’t think there’s a reason for it, it’s just the way it’s been. I think we just need to get a home win and kick on from there - as a team you should want to play at home and be confident of getting three points.”
Airdrie have a chance to get that home win on Saturday, with the visit of East Fife. Darren Young’s men have been in impressive form since beating the Diamonds at Bayview in September.
If selected, Chris will make appearance number 100 against the Fifers. He expects a difficult game.
“They’re all hard games, but East Fife have been on a brilliant run and they’ll be full of confidence, so I’m expecting a tough afternoon if I’m playing.
“100 appearances is a big milestone, but the three points are more important!”
Manager Ian Murray was pleased with the performance at Stranraer, and says his side will have given the Fifers something to think about.
“From what I’ve seen East Fife are a very hard-working team, but that’s what we’ve come to expect in this league.
“They’ve got quality and it’ll be tough for us, but if they watched our performance last week they’ll be saying the same.”
David Hutton has been declared fit after missing the Stranraer match with an ankle knock. The goalkeeper resumed training this week and is back in contention for Saturday’s squad.