DAVID SMITH - Friday, December 5, 2014
In their penultimate game of 2014, Conor O'Brien and Wiener Neustadt need a result when they host third-place SCR Altach to have any hope of avoiding spending winter in the drop zone.
SC Wiener Neustadt - SCR Altach
A 3-0 loss last weekend to area rivals Rapid Vienna left Conor O'Brien and Neustadt three points adrift of safety.
With the team also having a far worse goal differential than their nearest competitors for the bottom spot, they need to pick up at least four points over their final two games to even have a chance of spending the two-month winter break above the surface.
After having lost heavily to Rapid last weekend, their chances aren't looking good against the Altach, who are currently the third-best team in the division and looking fit to challenge for a Champion League qualification spot.
While Neustadt have won just once since late-August, Altach are on a completely opposite trajectory, having lost only once in the same period.
They defeated Neustadt by a 2-0 margin the first time the two teams played in September, and will be favorites to take the points against their last-place hosts.
Neustadt will be missing midfielder Daniel Schöpf due to a red card suspension, while the hosts are without defender Cesar Ortiz, who is out with a foot injury.
The Erste Liga has begun its long winter break, meaning that Shawn Barry and first-place Linz will have until late-February to recharge for their promotion race against Keith Cardona and third-place Liefering, and current second-place team SV Mattersburg.