Dodds’ appearances for Rangers this season have been fleeting at best so he has to make the most of it when he gets a chance.
Before today he had only made three starts for the side – one of them being the Tennent’s Scottish Cup tie at Forfar where he scored a hat-trick in Rangers’ 6-0 win.
He completely fell out of favour under Dick Advocaat and even although Alex McLeish has given him a much fairer crack of the whip, Dodds is still very much on the periphery.
That said, he is the type of character who always gives total effort and loves playing for the jersey and there was genuine joy on his face after two great striker’s goals which produced what was essentially a comfortable win for Rangers.
He gave them the lead in 38 minutes and it was a typical Dodds goal as he showed the predatory style which has made him one of the best strikers in the Scottish game in the past decade.
Andrei Kanchelskis started it all with a bursting run on the right followed by a pacey cross. Peter Lovenkrands flicked the ball on and Dodds slid in to stab it into the net from six yards.
Kanchelskis should have scored 12 minutes earlier when Lorenzo Amoruso cleverly played him in when the Hearts defenders were looking for an offside decision. The Russian winger only had Antti Niemi to beat but shot straight at the former Rangers’ keeper.
And the former Manchester United star might have scored in 21 minutes when Rangers worked a freekick to him just outside the box but Niemi denied on this occasion too, pushing his right foot shot past the left hand post.
Ronald de Boer, back in the side after five weeks’ out, did his best to coax and coerce Rangers with some excellent passes and dead balls but there was simply a flat atmosphere about the contest.
The Dutchman played for nearly an hour, getting a good run-out in midfield but sadly suffered another calf problem which is a concern to manager McLeish. His replacement was Jimmy Gibson, who enjoyed his second taste of top team action this season.
That said, Rangers had more than enough chances to make the game safe before Dodds did exactly that in the 70th minute.
Peter Lovenkrands might have had a hat-trick but it just was not his day in front of goal. In 49 minutes the young Dane headed McCann’s excellent cross wide.
Then in 56 minutes his stinging left foot volley was deflected for a corner after Vidmar had supplied the cross and he headed straight at Niemi from a Kanchelskis cross a few moments later.
It was left to Dodds to show him the way to do it although the quality of the delivery from McCann was of the highest standard, making the chance all the easier.
Vidmar started the move by setting McCann free down the line and Dodd was on his bike to the back post, eagerly anticipating a cross and McCann did not disappoint.
Dodds watched it all the way as it came over from the left and then directed a header into the left corner to clinch victory and a great day for him.
The other boost for McLeish was the re-introduction of Michael Mols for the last 19 minutes to increase his options in the coming weeks.
RANGERS: Klos; Ross, Malcolm, Amoruso, Vidmar; Kanchelskis, de Boer (Gibson 57, Latapy 90), Nerlinger, McCann; Dodds, Lovenkrands (Mols 71). Subs not used – McGregor, Caniggia, Latapy.
HEARTS: Niemi; Maybury, McKenna, Todd, Mahe; Flogel, Gronlund (Fulton 9), Severin, Milne (Tomaschek 32); Fuller, Wales (Weir 73). Subs not used – McKenzie, Webster.
Bookings: Maybury (21) Severin (68)
Ref: Dougie McDonald.
Man of the match: Billy Dodds
Moment of the match: The return of Mols is timely for Rangers as the build-up to the Cup Final gathers pace.