Terrible game, great moment. Looking for positives in the spectacle that was Scunthorpe United v Carlisle United needed a particularly strong magnifying glass – unless you were Ryan Loft.

It was and always will be the scene of his first professional goal. Something to treasure from an otherwise grey day. “Until you do it, until you experience it, you can’t describe it,” the striker says.

“It’s happened, and I can’t tell you the feeling it gives you. It’s that extra bit of confidence, especially when you get to celebrate with the fans as well.”

They were memorable scenes, when Loft drove the ball into the home net and then galloped to the away end, pursued by team-mates, with United’s travelling fans jubilant.

It had been a long wait in different senses. Not only was if Loft’s first senior strike, it was, in the context of the game, a rarity too: Carlisle’s first shot against League Two’s bottom side, an hour into the game.

That fact means nobody ought to get carried away by the nature of their 1-0 win, certainly not their performance. Fans, though, have seen enough victory chances spurned in better displays not to turn down any win that comes grimly.

Importantly, it ended a four-game winless run and a sequence without an away league triumph that began in January. Carlisle’s task is to build on the relieved feeling that came at full-time, while Loft must now make further steps.

It was the seventh appearance of his loan spell from Leicester and, to the 21-year-old’s credit, he did as much as anyone to reshape the game in the second half at Glanford Park.

His aerial efforts at least unsettled Scunthorpe’s centre-halves, who had until then enjoyed a comfortable afternoon against Elias Sorensen, who was hardly suited to the sort of ball Carlisle were trying (and often failing) to send towards him from minutes 0-45.

Loft observed that sterile first half before getting the substitute’s call during the half-time warm-up. “One of the perks of being on the bench is you can see what’s on the pitch, and it’s probably what the players out there can’t see as much,” he says.

“You can watch and see where you’re getting joy and where you’re not, and if you concentrate you can always see where you can exploit other teams.

“That’s what I kind of did in terms of winning the first ball and exploiting the space behind, and that’s where my goal came from.”

Loft has come close to scoring before, but hit the bar and was denied by a save from openings against Barnsley in the Carabao Cup first round win at Oakwell. Opportunities have been scarce in other outings but managing not only to score but win a game is now a welcome step indeed.

“It makes you feel more part of the team as well, because you’ve given something back to them,” he says. “I think that’s the most important bit.

“Obviously it’s nice to get the goal as a forward. If we’d won 3-0 that would have been ideal, but sometimes it takes just one goal and that’s the one that can make the difference.

“Hopefully there’s many more. Hopefully the games don’t go like that, but if I can keep scoring as many goals as I can I’ll be happy.”

Before joining Carlisle this summer Loft had made 10 first-team appearances in loan moves in the EFL, whilst also having a stint in non-league with Braintree. He played for Exeter and Stevenage whilst on Tottenham’s books, while this season with United is his first spell away from Leicester, who he joined in 2018.

It remains a learning curve for the tall frontman and one imagines matches like Saturday’s are seldom seen on the technique-heavy, tension-light under-23 fields he is more accustomed to.

“Sometimes you just have to ride those games out,” he says of the Scunthorpe win. “Not every game is going to go the way you want it to go. It was a scruffy game, but sometimes you just have to grind it out.

“The main thing the manager wanted from me was to be physical and to try to help the team get higher up the pitch. The goal came that way - it was from a long ball and I held the defender [Andy Butler] off a little bit, and his header wasn’t the greatest.

“I spun off the back of him and followed the line of the ball, and Harry [McKirdy] flicked it around the corner, so I got into my stride and put my foot through it. It’s not the cleanest I’ve ever hit a shot but, at the end of that day, sometimes they go in.”

Amen – no self-respecting striker will turn down a goal whatever its artistic merit. Some No9s have built careers on scoring in an unsightly manner.

“Any forward will say that it’s goals that will boost you,” Loft adds. “With me, the games I’ve played recently haven’t got me a goal, but I’ve tried to do other stuff to help.

“I’m just over the moon with the goal, it fills me with confidence.”

Pressley made no bones about the fact he signed Loft to add different qualities to his strikeforce, aside from the particular attributes of Sorensen and Olufela Olomola, two other loanees.

“People look at me as a big player so you do have to live up to that a little bit,” Loft says. “It’s about giving as much as you can to help the team.

“Physicality in these kinds of games [such as Scunthorpe] is important, so you have to try to hold your own and, if you can do that, it’s better for everybody.”

While Carlisle’s August ended against League Two’s bottom side, September will begin against the table-toppers. Exeter, who are unbeaten after four wins and two draws, will be vaguely familiar opponents for Loft because he played one game for the Grecians in February 2018.

“My spell there was hit and miss,” he says. “But for them, they got to the play-off final that season, so they were on a high.

“More importantly this year, at Carlisle, I feel like I’m more part of the team and I feel like I’m enjoying my time here.

“Previous loans haven’t gone my way. I feel like I’ve settled in well here and it’s great a bunch of lads. The manager and coaching staff have given me confidence and I’m just happy that I’ve rewarded them with a goal and a win.”

The first of several on both fronts, with any luck.