Stephen hits goal target

Stephen O'Neill fires home his third against Preston Athletic to complete the first hat-trick by a Cumbernauld Colts player.
Stephen O'Neill fires home his third against Preston Athletic to complete the first hat-trick by a Cumbernauld Colts player.

With just 10 games still to play Cumbernauld Colts are sitting pretty in third place in their debut season in the Lowland League.

Consolidation was the aim for the Broadwood-based side when the campaign got under way in August, but Colts have adapted well to life in the fifth tier of Scottish football.

One of the main factors in their success so far has been the form - and the goals - Stephen O’Neill.

Despite being classed as a midfielder the 21-year-old is the club’s top scorer and recently hit double figures for the season in Colts’ last match against Preston Athletic.

That game - a 5-1 victory - also provided another historical milestone in a landmark season for the club as he became the first player ever to score a hat-trick for the club at senior level.

O’Neill began his career at Aberdeen where he spent four years and captained the Pittodrie club’s under-20 side.

After loan spells at Peterhead and East Fife he then moved to Montrose where he spent a season before switching to Cumbernauld to become part of the club’s first-ever Lowland League squad.

Colts actually lost three of their first five matches - all at home - but have since found their feet and been beaten just twice in 13 matches since then.

Their form away form home has been particularly impressive with their only defeat on the road coming at the hands of defending champions and league leaders Edinburgh City who beat them 3-1 just before Christmas.

O’Neill is delighted both with the progress made by the club and with his own form.

He told the News and Chronicle: “I think that for the first season we’ve done really well so far.

“I think the standard has probably been better than I expected and most of the teams are fairly equal.

“It is a bit more physical in the Lowland League but a lot of the teams try to play good football. We like to try to play football and it’s going well for us.

“Personally I’m happy with the way that I’ve been playing and the goals I’ve been scoring. That’s me on 10 for the season which was the target I set myself at the start so hopefully I can go on and add to that.”

“It was great to get the club’s first ever hat-trick in the Lowland League and it was also my first ever hat-trick in senior football.

“As far as the rest of the season goes I just want to keep playing well and scoring goals and help the club to as high a finish as we can.

“We haven’t really set a finishing position as a target, we’re just taking it game by game.

“We’ve only lost once away from home so if we can keep up that kind of form then hopefully we can get a high finish.”

Colts’ match at Edinburgh University on Saturday was called off and they have no game scheduled for this weekend.

Their next match is at home to University of Stirling on January 30 before a testing away double header against Spartans in the league and South of Scotland Cup.