Hearts boss: Best yet to come from Abiola Dauda

Abiola Dauda celebrates making it 3-0 to Hearts in Dingwall

Abiola Dauda celebrates making it 3-0 to Hearts in Dingwall

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ABIOLA DAUDA will only get better for Hearts after two stunning goals in Dingwall last night.

That was the prediction from head coach Robbie Neilson after the Nigerian came off the substitutes’ bench to net twice – in the 86th and 89th minutes – in a 3-0 win over Ross County.

Dauda arrived on loan from Vitesse Arnhem last week and, following a debut against Hibs on Sunday, scored his first Hearts goals in the Highlands. His first was an impish pass into the corner of the net on an angle, the second a fine left-footed effort from the edge of the penalty area.

The win opened an 11-point gap between third-placed Hearts and fourth-placed County in the Ladbrokes Premiership. The Edinburgh club also have a game in hand. Neilson admitted Hearts fans can expect more of the same from Dauda once he reaches full fitness.

“I expect to see more of that,” he told the Evening News. “Players take time to see what a new player is good at, the moves he makes and what they need to do to supply the ball to him. I think they’ll start to realise that you get the ball to Dauda near the box and he’ll cause problems. He’s only going to get better as his fitness gets better.

“We’ve got to manage him for the next four or five weeks until he’s fully fit. I’ll need to take a look at it and decide if he starts on Saturday now [against Partick Thistle]. It’s early days yet. He’s played two games and scored two goals and I really hope it continues. We did really well last year signing Genero Zeefuik on loan from a similar market. We’re hoping Abiola will be the same. The two finishes last night were real top-drawer. He didn’t panic at either of them.”

Neilson confirmed there is no provision in Dauda’s loan deal for the player to join Hearts permanently this summer. He is contractually obliged to return to Vitesse once the Scottish season ends.

Hearts were 1-0 ahead when Dauda replaced Arnaud Djoum on 61 minutes. Relentless pressure from Ross County hinted at an equaliser but Dauda’s intervention was the game’s decisive factor.

“I thought we were the better team in the first half,” Neilson continued. “We passed the ball quite well and we got through a few times. It was just our final quality on a difficult pitch. In the second half, we got a wee bit of luck with the goal but then we brought Dauda on to change the game for us with his quality.

“That’s the reason I brought him in. He’s not fully fit yet either. He got 90 minutes on Sunday, which was probably more than he should’ve played because of injuries and the problems we had. Last night, he got 30 minutes and we’re just trying to build him up slowly because we know what his qualities are.

“The first goal is different class. Nobody is expecting him to hit it, he’s got no backlift and it just goes in the bottom corner. That’s the sign of a good striker. He’s got two games and two goals so hopefully that continues. This was a big game for us. Ross County got a huge result a fortnight ago against Celtic. They’re in the League Cup final and the Scottish Cup quarter-finals. They’re hunting us down so it was a huge game. The result sends out a statement that the gap is there. To keep a clean sheet is great. We rode our luck at times, they got a couple of free headers from corners but it was a good performance.”

Jordan McGhee was withdrawn injured in the second half but Neilson doesn’t expect the player’s problem to be serious. “McGhee should be okay for Saturday. His back started to spasm a bit but I think it should be fine,” he explained.

really well last year signing Genero Zeefuik on loan from a similar market. We’re hoping Abiola will be the same. The two finishes last night were real top-drawer. He didn’t panic at either of them.”

Neilson confirmed there is no provision in Dauda’s loan deal for the player to join Hearts permanently this summer. He is contractually obliged to return to Vitesse once the Scottish season ends.

Hearts were 1-0 ahead when Dauda replaced Arnaud Djoum on 61 minutes. Relentless pressure from Ross County hinted at an equaliser but Dauda’s intervention was the game’s decisive factor.

“I thought we were the better team in the first half,” Neilson continued. “We passed the ball quite well and we got through a few times. It was just our final quality on a difficult pitch. In the second half, we got a wee bit of luck with the goal but then we brought Dauda on to change the game for us with his quality.

“That’s the reason I brought him in. He’s not fully fit yet either. He got 90 minutes on Sunday, which was probably more than he should’ve played because of injuries and the problems we had. Last night, he got 30 minutes and we’re just trying to build him up slowly because we know what his qualities are.

“The first goal is different class. Nobody is expecting him to hit it, he’s got no backlift and it just goes in the bottom corner. That’s the sign of a good striker. He’s got two games and two goals so hopefully that continues. This was a big game for us. Ross County got a huge result a fortnight ago against Celtic. They’re in the League Cup final and the Scottish Cup quarter-finals. They’re hunting us down so it was a huge game. The result sends out a statement that the gap is there. To keep a clean sheet is great. We rode our luck at times, they got a couple of free headers from corners but it was a good performance.”

Jordan McGhee was withdrawn injured in the second half but Neilson doesn’t expect the player’s problem to be serious. “McGhee should be okay for Saturday. His back started to spasm a bit but I think it should be fine,” he explained.