Yan Dhanda targets perfect Ross County farewell as he pays tribute to his Staggies 'family'

Yan Dhanda netted the penalty that sparked the mother of all come backs as Ross County survived last season’s relegation play-off.

Now the Englishman is hell bent on delivering Premiership survival for a second time as a leaving gift for his County family. Dhanda thought he’d done just that with a rocket of an opener in Wednesday’s night’s drop zone showdown with St Johnstone. But the Perth side hit back with a 90th minute leveller meaning the battle to escape a second successive play-off rumbles on into Sunday’s final regular matchday. The Staggies face Aberdeen knowing that is Saints can beat Motherwell then they need to do likewise against a Dons side that’s beaten them in all four of their meetings in all competitions this season.

Dhanda will join Hearts after two brilliant seasons in Dingwall in the summer. And the former Swansea playmaker said: “I’ve always said when I knew I was leaving here that my main aim was to keep Ross County in the league. That’s where they should be.

“On Sunday, I’m looking forward to helping them do that. The fans have been good to me and my family ever since I’ve been here. I’ve loved being here.

“It’s the most I’ve enjoyed football in my career, I’ve loved being at the club. It’s a family club. I got told that when I came here. I got told that it’s not just about you, it’s about your family back home. If you need anything then your family comes first.

“That’s what it’s been like with Malky Mackay, the other managers, Don Cowie, you can go to them with anything and they will look after you and your family.

“It’s not just about the performing on the pitch, they know everything at home has to be good as well. As many of us live so far from home, players are like family. We are very close. It would mean everything to me to keep Ross County up. They’ve been good to me. My son was born here so it’s got a special place in my heart.”

Don Cowie will lead County into a game he hopes will be his last as interim boss. And Dhanda insists the former first team coach is the ideal man for the permanent position in Dingwall.

He said: “He deserves it. Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve learned a lot from him because he was an unbelievable player and now an unbelievable coach. He’s someone who I can look up to. When you see the performances that we’ve put in under Don, it shows how good he is.

“Everyone has so much respect for him. If he criticises you then you take it on the chin because he has everyone’s best interests at heart. If there’s anyone to push Ross County forward, then it’s him.”