Former Hibs kid Aaron Dunsmore aiming to dent Ian Murray’s Airdrie revival

Aaron Dunsmore, left, celebrates scoring for East Fife
Aaron Dunsmore, left, celebrates scoring for East Fife
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Aaron Dunsmore wrote himself into East Fife’s history with a last-minute winner which saw the Methil club beat their Fife rivals Raith Rovers for the first time in 30 years.

And the former Hibs kid repeated the feat, scoring again as Darren Young’s team defeated Raith again to push themselves very much into the chase for a League One play-off place.

Tomorrow Dunsmore and his team-mates will look to further secure that spot when they take on Airdrieonians at their Bayview Stadium, the Diamonds now bossed by one of the 22-year-old’s Easter Road heroes, Ian Murray.

He recalled: “As a Hibs fan I used to sit in the main stand watching him play in many games including the Edinburgh derbies. I learned so much as a fellow defender from him, such a passionate player.

“It’s a big game, Airdrie are in fifth place, six points behind us, so it’s a chance for us to cement our play-off place which was our aim at the start of the season.

“But we know it will be tough, we were beaten 4-2 by them in one of Ian’s first matches as manager despite being 2-0 up.

“Our win against Raith last weekend means we are only three points behind them and that’s the big incentive for us, to catch them and get above them in the league.

“When we beat Raith back in November it was the first time in 30 years and beforehand all our fans were saying ‘just beat them’. They were pretty ecstatic that we did and even more so now we’ve beaten them twice in a season.

“We’re also in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Challenge Cup [East Fife will travel to play Bohemians in Dublin at the beginning of February] and into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup [at home to Morton] so it’s been pretty good so far this season.”

Tomorrow’s match will also see Dunsmore come face-to-face with Hibs youngster Josh Campbell, the 18-year-old having only joined Airdrie on loan this week, but he is someone he knows from his time with the Capital club.

He said: “Josh came in towards the end of my time at Hibs and he’s a good player. I’ve seen him in the Under-20s a few times and I think Airdrie will suit him to a tee.

“League One is a decent level and there are good teams in the League, Arbroath are setting the pace, Raith are full-time and Dumbarton, who have plenty of Championship experience, are also in it.”

Dunsmore himself spent time on loan at Edinburgh City in League Two, along with Ryan Porteous, while on Hibs’ books, and it’s a move he insisted he would recommend to any young player.

He said: “It takes you out of your comfort zone, playing ‘proper football’ against experienced players at different grounds around the country.

“Gary Jardine [City’s then manager] helped me a lot and it certainly let me see what the game is all about. Ryan and I are friends, we used to share a car pool at City, and it proved a good stepping stone for both of us.”

While Porteous has made himself a regular member of Neil Lennon’s first team, Dunsmore found himself surplus to requirements at Easter Road 
after four years at the club.

Always on the fringes of the first-team squad although he never got further than the bench under former boss Alan Stubbs, Dunsmore was released after his time with Edinburgh City where he had played 34 games.

But he was quickly snapped up by East Fife and, having made more than 60 appearances, Dunsmore, who now works in an Edinburgh City Council contact centre, prefers to look to the future rather than what might have been.

He said: “I’d been with Hibs for four years and under Alan Stubbs was on the bench numerous times but did not get to play.

“But that’s what happens with young players, it doesn’t necessarily work out and you just have to get on with things.

“It’s the harsh reality of life, you pick yourself up, look to bounce back and I’ve found myself a good club in East Fife.

“I don’t know if it was anything to do with the change of managers. Neil Lennon was great with me but it was probably just a case of I just wasn’t good enough to play for Hibs.”

Dunsmore did get one opportunity to pull on a green and white shirt for Stubbs’ first team as Hibs rounded off a pre-season training camp in the Spanish resort of La Manga with a friendly against Wigan Athletic, then managed by former Easter Road defender Gary Caldwell.

Among the couple of hundred Hibs fans who watched that game were then Scotland boss Gordon Strachan and Liverpool and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish, and Dunsmore admitted he has pleasant memories of that evening.

He said: “What I do remember is that it was really warm, somewhere around 30C. It was a good test playing against a side which had a few good players like Martyn Waghorn, who went to Rangers shortly afterwards, and Billy Mackay.

“It was a good experience for a young boy like me and I thought I did well in the game.”