Midfielder Simon Rusk has defended his poor goalscoring record after ending a 19-month drought during York City’s 2-0 FA Trophy semi-final, first leg victory at Telford.

Rusk opened his City account in spectacular fashion during his 50th appearance for the KitKat Crescent club at the Buck’s Head Stadium and was later joined by another rare marksman – Ben Purkiss – on the scoresheet.

But the 27-year-old midfielder, who last hit the target in August 2007 for Northwich, was quick to point out his goal-making contribution to the Minstermen with only Purkiss providing more assists for his team-mates this season.

Rusk, who has netted 16 times during eight years as a professional, said: “I’ve never been one to score many goals. It’s a weakness in my game and I have always been criticised for not getting enough throughout my career, but I will defend myself because, if I look back at my time with the club, I know I’ve played a big part in a lot of goals and that’s always been my style.

“Hopefully the goal will now give me the confidence to get more.”

Rusk also revealed his tenth-minute strike at Telford was a variation on a short-corner routine devised on the training ground.

He said: “The gaffer got our set pieces and theirs right down to a tee. He said only one defender would come out for corners and that’s what happened.

“I was meant to cross it actually, but I saw the opportunity to have a shot and luckily it hit the back of the net which was a nice feeling.”

Rusk has probably been the main beneficiary of manager Martin Foyle’s decision to field three central midfielders.

His performances in the roving, attacking role earned him the February Press Player of the Month accolade.

About his new responsibility, the former Boston United player said: “I’ve loved it. There have been times this season, without being big-headed, when you feel that you’re getting dragged down by the standard of Conference football.

“There are a lot of good teams at this level but sometimes I think all the football is played in the early months and, when you get the bad pitches, it’s hard to get a foothold in games. Playing in the hole, though, I see a lot of the ball in good positions.

“You can get stifled on occasions and teams might try to come out for the second half and nullify your system but that’s part and parcel of the game and you have to cope with it.”

Rusk also added that he hopes an aggregate victory over Telford and the prospect of a Wembley final can unite the club again and help spearhead a swift climb to safety in the league, while echoing his manager’s sentiments that the semi-final tie is far from finished.

He said: “I want the club to have a feelgood factor because, let’s make no bones about it, it’s been a very disappointing season. If we can get to Wembley, then get safe in the league by finishing the season strongly, everybody will be lifted again. The semi-final’s not over at all though. Two-nil can be a dangerous score to defend but it’s better than 0-0.”

Of tomorrow night’s league clash at fellow strugglers Forest Green, Rusk said: “We’ve said we need to put this tie to one side. We have got as big a game, if not bigger, tomorrow.”