Leicester loanee Ryan Loft took his tally of goals to four at the weekend when he came off the bench to bag the winner in the 2-1 home victory over Macclesfield Town.
The 22-year-old now has four goals from his 16 appearances, with his strike against the Silkmen the second time he’s notched the match winner for the Blues in a league game.
The goal came with eight minutes left to play and courtesy of an enterprising bit of play as the big striker first charged down a clearance before running on to calmly slot the ball into the bottom corner.
“After the game someone actually said if I’d blocked it with any other part of my body it would have just bounced off me and went out for a goal kick or back to the keeper, but luckily it hit me on the soft bit of the thigh,” he explained. “It’s never easy when you’re one-on-one with the keeper because you have so many options, so it was nice to see it hit the back of the net.
“I think the worst thing you can do in that situation is overthink it. If you’ve got an idea of what you’re going to do in your head you’ve just got to stick to it and make sure you get good contact on the ball. It’s a great feeling when it hits the back of the net.
“It definitely makes it better with the timing and what the goal meant in terms of us winning the game. It’s a massive confidence boost for the fans for the games going forward, but it also gives us the confidence that we can go out and do it again.
“Scoring a goal like that in front of the home fans is obviously really good. The goal I scored against Scunthorpe was the same because we had a great following down there that day. To score the winner and be able to share that moment with the fans is special.”
Speaking about the importance of the victory following the recent struggle for results, he told us: “It’s a massive victory because the last few weeks haven’t been easy for us. I think the result at Leyton Orient last week was a bit of a stepping-stone in terms of us going on to get the win, and everyone in the changing room is delighted.
“To go on a run when you aren’t winning games is never a nice feeling, especially early in the season. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when the bad results keep coming and things aren’t quite clicking for the team. You can feel the tension in the crowd and the changing room, but with a win like that we can really kick on now.
“I don’t think you lose belief because we’ve got a good group of players and we know what we’re about. Going forward, we have to use this win and make sure we continue it.”
With his impact having come from the bench, he said: “When you’re a sub you always look at how the team are playing and you’re constantly thinking about what you would do and which areas you would try to get into.
“Sometimes it’s a positive starting on the bench, because you can watch the game and you always have that belief you can change it if you get the chance. We’d played well in the game, so it was a case of coming on to try and add something after the foundations were already put in place by the rest of the team.
Having got the draw with such a good second half away performance at Orient he confirmed that the importance of building on that result had been at the forefront of minds ahead of Saturday’s game.
“To get a win like that at home feels much better than doing it away,” he commented. “We know we could have won at Orient so it was important to bring that back here. It will hopefully give the fans a bit more belief in us and going forward we know we want to give them more to enjoy when they come and watch us.
“I think the last couple of games have shown what we can do. The games before have been tough, things haven’t gone our way and we haven’t been at our best, but to pick up four points from the last two games is a good return and something we can build on.
“When you get a win after a while and when we scored the second goal today, you could feel the tension ease off a little bit because the fans were celebrating. When the fans are enjoying it, it makes it enjoyable for the players to play in front of them. It’s a reward for everyone when you get a win.”
The bulk of the forward’s appearances so far have come as a substitute, and he confirmed that he’s working hard to try to force his way into the manager’s thoughts.
“I have struggled a little bit in the last few weeks,” he told us. “Everyone wants to be playing games and doing well for the team, so it’s difficult when you aren’t involved.
“I can get a little bit down when I can’t help the lads, so to come on and get a goal is just a really nice feeling. The gaffer has been hard on me, but I think that’s how to get the best out of me going forward, so it’s really helped me.
“From there it’s up top me to show the manager what I can do. Stats will tell you that the more game time you get, the more goals and chances you’ll get. All I can do when I get minutes on the pitch is take my chances when I get them, which I think I’ve done in the last two games I’ve scored in.
“I have to try and build on this now, but whatever team the manager choses for the FA Cup game will have confidence because of this result, and we’ll just be concentrating on getting through to the next round.”
Looking ahead to the televised game on Friday night, he said: “We’ll prepare for the Dulwich game exactly the same as we would for a league game. This win will give us confidence, but we won’t be taking it lightly because they’ll want to get through just as much as we do.
“A win in any game helps build confidence around the group, so we’ll get looking to get another one on Friday. Being on TV obviously adds something extra, but I think you just have to try and block that out and play the game rather than the occasion. As long as we win, we’ll be fine.”
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