Bristol Rovers strikers ‘special feeling’ of scoring first goal at ‘amazing’ Memorial Stadium

The 24-year-old scored with his first touch in the recent 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town
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Ryan Loft has already experienced the feeling of adulation from Bristol Rovers fans after scoring an important goal.

Loft, who has a difficult start to life at the Gas, scored his one and only goal in a 3-1 win against Port Vale  on Bank Holiday Monday back in April.

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It was a goal that would play a part in Rovers’ promotion from League Two as they pipped Northampton Town on the virtue of goals scored.

Loft’s goal came in front of a packed sold-out away end at Vale Park, which fans still reminisce about today for the jubilant scenes that followed.

The former Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur striker has a new memory to write home about now however, his first goal at the Memorial Stadium.

After being played in by top scorer Aaron Collins, Loft scored with a composed finish in what could have possibly been his first touch against Shresbury Town.

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Describing the feeling of his first home goal, Loft said: “It was amazing, scoring at the Mem is always a special feeling, it’s my first one. Every time we have scored here, the crowd is amazing.

“It was a scrappy game, they made it difficult for us by wasting time. They came here happy to what they could out of the game. When we went 1-0 up we were disappointed we let the game go but still a point on the board.

“I think I might have had a couple, but it’s my first proper touch. It’s a shame we couldn’t hold on to it, but still a moment I’ll remember.

“I was calling Azza (Aaron Collins), I was expecting him to shoot for a man who is in fine form. He put a nice ball on the plate and I was able to finish it off.

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“It was a loud crowd and it was a shame it couldn’t have been at the other end. At the same breath, a goal is a goal.”

Loft’s arrival in January had expectations of the striker making an immediate impact with the striker signed for a fee, beating off competition from a number of clubs for his signature.

He had scored goals the season prior for Scunthorpe United and continued that for a side struggling at the foot of the table.

Opportunities though were hard to come by as the form of Collins kept him as the false nine, whilst Leon Clarke was making a return to fitness.

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It left Loft having to accept substitute opportunities and on a few occasions, he had weeks on the sidelines through niggly injuries.

He is now back to fitness and has so far been in contention for every game but still finds himself having to settle for a place amongst the substitutes bench with summer signing John Marquis starting ahead of him.

Commenting on his situation, he said: “It’s obviously difficult when you are never starting but at the same time, you have to be a good player to support the group when you are called upon.

“Everyone is going to get there fair share of game time, it’s about being ready and making the team better when you come on.

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“I’ve been in the situation last year where we were in fine form, so I’m used to being like that. At the same time, every player wants to play as much as they can so I have to be ready for that.

“I have to just keep working on the training ground and more importantly score goals. I think that always helps in trying push up the pecking order a bit.

“At the same time, John (Marquis) has done well in that role where we play one up top. You have to be supportive of players and your time will come.”

The introduction of five substitutions in the English Football League has offered fringe players an opportunity to have a more prominent role in the side.

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Loft is a beneficiary of that by coming off the bench five times this season with Saturday’s goal being the immediate impact that his manager will have desired.

The 24-year-old however could be in contention for his second start of the season against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park this evening.

A group stage tie against the Pilgrims in the EFL Trophy - a competition where team rotation is common - could be the opportunity the striker is looking for to impress Joey Barton.

“Every player wants to start but more importantly that is an important role especially with five substitutions this year, it does make a massive difference,” Loft admitted.

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“Even being on the bench, you’re not worrying about ‘oh they’ve already made two subs, am I gonna be the next one or?’ There is a high chance that you will possibly come on. You have to stay ready and if you come on and do your job, it’s all you can do in football.

“It will be another tough game but the manager chooses the team and if I’m in it, I’ll give my all for the team.

“Hopefully we can progress in that competition as well, but it’s another game for people to get minutes in. We’ll see what he goes with and how we get on.”

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