Exclusive: Dylan Vente on Hibs fans amid goal drought, his role and prediction
Dylan Vente admits his head was swimming by the time the last international break rolled around, as the strain of leading the line during a packed domestic schedule left the Hibs striker running on empty. Looking fit and refreshed as he bagged another valuable assist in Saturday’s precious 2-1 away in over Dundee, the Dutchman has clearly restored some equilibrium to his game.
Putting defenders in a spin, twisting and turning to generate space, he’s proud of the fact that his set-up for the opening goal was his third assist in as many games. If goals will always remain the be-all and end-all for a striker currently enduring a nine-game scoring drought, there is consolation to be found in the knowledge that he’s contributing to the cause.
Revealing just how close to exhaustion he’d been after a run of six games in three weeks, Vente said: “Before the international break, in the last game against Kilmarnock, I was definitely a bit tired. At half-time, I actually felt dizzy, you know?
“But the break was good, and I think it showed in the Dundee game, where I had some opportunities. No goal, but an important assist, some good balls. There just wasn’t a ball for me in front of goal – but it will come.”
It means a lot to Vente that, despite his struggles to find the net, Hibs fans don’t seem to be losing faith in a player who joined the Easter Road club in a £700,000 deal back in July. In general, they’re still supportive of the former Feyenoord forward.
“Goals are still the thing that excite me, as a striker,” said Vente, who scored in each of new boss Nick Montgomery’s first three games. “And, of course, you think about it. But it’s not like I’m missing chances.
“I know if the ball is coming to me in a good position, I will score. We maybe just have to find a way to get me in a better position. Maybe my runs have to better, smarter.
“But to have three assists in the last three games is pretty good. It’s funny. Now I’m all about the assists!
“It means a lot that the fans still seem to be supporting me. Because I know I’m not scoring – but I can be important in a different role, working hard and getting assists.
“I know the goals will come and, when they do, I can be even more important to the team. I’m just waiting for that moment, working hard to make it happen.”
The opener in Saturday’s 2-1 win demonstrated the value of Vente as an all-round footballer, as he combined beautifully with Jair Tavares for the Portuguese winner to finish off a superb flowing mood. One straight off the training ground at East Mains, apparently.
“We train on that sort of move all the time,” he explained, adding: “I saw Jair cutting inside, so I knew to pull wide, then to wait and deliver the cut-back. It was a brilliant goal for him, a great attack from us.
“We saw how much it meant to Jair at the end. We all know it’s been a tough time for him. He’s doing great for us, as he showed with the goal.
“It’s good to play with him, he has some good moments. As a striker, it’s a lot of fun to play with him.
“I think there was more space to do that sort of thing in the Dundee game – but of course the red card made it more difficult for us. So we just had to settle for the three points and be professional.”
Lewis Miller’s second booking just after the hour mark certainly put a dampener on the visitors’ ability to play possession football. Paul Hanlon was thrown on to add some experience to the defence, with Will Fish moved to right back – and Vente was the unlucky attacker forced to take up a place on the bench, sacrificing his own game time for the greater good.
“You know it’s coming, when we go down to 10 men, that one of the forwards is going to be sacrificed so we can get another defender on,” he said. “It has happened to me a few times.
“But when you are on that bench, you feel so helpless, you feel the tension so much more. If you are on the pitch, you can help the team. Sitting on the sidelines, you’re watching every opposition attack thinking: ‘Oh no, no, no, no …’
“It was an important win. But, at the end, it was pretty nervous! It was important to hold on because we’ve had a couple of games where we’ve been pulled back to a draw at the last minute. To keep it at 2-1 was big for us, a good three points.”