Ross County 0-3 Hearts: Neilson praises his teenage centre-backs

John Souttar (right) challenges David Goodwillie
John Souttar (right) joined Hearts from Dundee United in the January transfer window

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson praised the performance of his two young centre-backs as his side defeated Ross County 3-0 in Dingwall.

Substitute Abiola Dauda scored two late goals after a Jamie Walker deflection to move Hearts 11 points clear in third place in the Premiership.

Neilson was delighted with new signing John Souttar and fellow youngster Jordan McGhee in defence.

"They're two teenagers, and the two of them did really well today," he said.

"I'm really pleased at the performance. We had two young centre-backs in Jordan McGhee and John Souttar. We had (Callum) Paterson, (Sam) Nicholson, (Dario) Zanatta coming on, Liam Smith, all young kids.

"For McGhee and Souttar to play against two experienced players in (David) Goodwillie and (Liam) Boyce I thought they played really well and dealt with the physicality of it, and they passed the ball really well.

"It's a difficult place to come, Jim's got a great team here, so to come here and get a 3-0 win is a great performance."

Dauda, 28, joined the Tynecastle club on transfer deadline day to replace top goalscorer Osman Sow, and Neilson believes the Nigerian has shown enough to suggest he will be yet another shrewd signing for the club.

"He's a top quality player and I think you saw that with his two finishes, they were real quality," Neilson told BBC Scotland. "He's a top player, there's no doubt about that, and I'm really pleased to get him.

"I didn't want to start him today because he has such a hard game at the weekend (2-2 draw with Hibernian) but I knew if we got him on for 30 minutes he'd show his quality."

Hearts are now unbeaten in their last eight matches
Hearts are now unbeaten in their last eight matches

Ross County were the more threatening side before the deadlock was broken, with Jackson Irvine missing a good headed chance in the first half and Liam Boyce hitting the crossbar during a strong spell after the interval.

It was the first time this season the Dingwall side have failed to score at home.

"It was a never a 3-0," bemoaned Staggies manager Jim McIntyre. "It's one of those games when we haven't taken our chances and we've gifted them the lead.

"We know the goals we gave away were poor.

"The first one we should have cleared but we headed off each other and it ended up in the back of the net.

"The second goal, Scott Fox should do better, he has to save it.

"When Hearts get in front they are a very hard team to break down.

"For spells we were the dominant team but you need to put the ball in the net.

"I saw my team make good chances against a good team on a bobbly pitch. The performance level was good but we made individual errors and we've been punished."