Ryan Loft says scoring the winner for Carlisle United has lifted his spirits after a tough few weeks on the fringe of the team.

The loanee’s late goal against Macclesfield provided a much-needed boost for the Blues.

It was also a welcome moment for the big striker, who netted after coming off the bench in the 2-1 Brunton Park victory.

Loft said: “I have struggled a little bit in the last few weeks – 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 team, [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.”

Loft’s 82nd-minute strike ended a five-game winless run in the league as Steven Pressley’s side claimed their first League Two victory for more than a month.

It was a timely outcome as they now step up preparations for Friday’s televised FA Cup first round trip to Dulwich Hamlet, which was last night confirmed as a sell-out.

Loft, 22, earned the goal by charging down a clearance from Silkmen skipper Fiacre Kelleher before slotting home.

It was his second league goal for the Cumbrians and fourth in all competitions.

He said: “After the game someone 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.

“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.

“The worst thing you can do in that situation is over-think 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 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.”

Loft, who has made five starts and 11 sub appearances, hopes his impact on Saturday will force him into Pressley’s first XI thinking.

He said: “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 [recently], and that’s all you can do.

“I have to try and build on this now, but whatever team the manager chooses 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.”

Loft says Saturday’s win saw the Blues build on their draw at Leyton Orient and hopes they can continue progressing, having ended a four-game losing league run.

“To go on a run when you aren’t winning games is never a nice feeling, especially early in the season,” he said.

“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.

“To get a win like that at home feels much better than doing it away. It will hopefully give the fans a bit more belief in us, and going forward we can hopefully give them more to enjoy when they come and watch us.

“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 going forward.”

United fielded a youthful side against Macclesfield and Loft said their inexperience should not hold them back.

The striker said: “It’s great to be involved in a young team and we’ve shown even with such a young team we can still go out and get a win.

“Jarrad [Branthwaite] and Jon Mellish were outstanding [in defence], they had a really good game and that’s great to see.

“Whoever it is from this squad who goes out onto the pitch, we all give our all to try and get a good result.”

Loft, meanwhile, says United must not be distracted by the extra attention that is on this Friday’s game, which is being shown live by the BBC.

The Blues must avoid an upset at the hands of the National League South outfit and Loft said: “We’ll prepare for the Dulwich game exactly the same as we would for a league game. [Saturday’s] 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.”

On the presence of the TV cameras, he said: “I think you just have to try and block that out and play the game rather than the occasion.”