We caught up with defender Tom Miller ahead of training on Monday morning to talk about goals, assists and the fast-approaching exciting cup fixture against Championship outfit Sunderland this evening.
Talking first about his early goal-of-the-season contender – a measured second half strike into the top corner [NOT the first half header], he joked: “That type of goal has always been there, it just hasn’t come out in a while.
“To be fair, Parkesy [Tom Parkes] set me up and I didn’t have to think about it too much. I took a touch and tried to curl it, and it went in. It’s one of those situations where things just seem to go your way.
I knew I was in a good position but Parkesy was on his left foot so I half expected him to have a go himself ...
“I knew I was in a good position but Parkesy was on his left foot so I half expected him to have a go himself. I’d already decided what I wanted to do if he did pass it to me and luckily it came my way.
“It was nice when it went in because people have talked about the goal I got at Hartlepool as probably being a cross. This one can’t be described as anything other than a shot so it’s up there as one of my best.
“The same can’t be said for the celebration though. Richie Bennett did it in training so it was the inspiration. What I didn’t calculate was that there was a lot more water on the ground for him. That meant I skidded to an abrupt halt and that’s why I stayed still, because it hurt a little bit.”
So is he also claiming the first goal to add to his tally?
“I was fighting for it with their lad and when I got my head on it the ball went goalwards, that’s all I can say,” he told us. “I tried my best to claim it at the time but I don’t think I’m going to get it.
“I’ll have to see if I can take it to an assist ... but I have to be honest and say it isn’t really my goal. Looking back at least season I only scored one so it’s nice to be back in amongst the goals. Hopefully there’ll be many more to come.”
“The lack of goals was something I was very self critical about last season,” he admitted. “I should have had more, but it’s something I’m aware of and that I’m looking to improve.
“This season I’ve played three games and I could have scored two or three in every game if it had been my day. I didn’t go up for set pieces much last season but I am this time round and I’m attacking the ball as much as I can.
“An advantage I have is that I’m under six feet tall so you tend not have a big lump marking you. That gives you room to attack the ball and that’s a bonus because I think it’s something I’m good at.
“It does surprise some people that I’m decent in the air, because of my height, so I’m going to use it as much as I can. It’s a decent threat for us to have as a team, whoever it comes from, so I’ll be focusing on playing my part as much as I can.”
Something else targeted by the squad this season was to tighten up at the back, and a solid clean sheet on Saturday was an important first step made on that journey.
“That’s something we’ve talked about a lot as a team so it was the most pleasing thing to come out of the game as far as I’m concerned,” he commented. “Keeping clean sheets comes from the front and the work Shaun Miller and Richie Bennett did on Saturday set the tone.
“The midfield lads picked it up as well and they’ll have covered a crazy amount of distance. It shows us that when we all do our jobs, and commit bodies forward at the right times, we can protect our own goal much better than we did last year. We’ve got a good mix of very good players so it’ll work if we keep doing that.”
Next up for the Blues is tonight’s Carabao Cup meeting with Simon Grayson’s Sunderland.
“It’s one to look forward to because it’s a big game for the club,” he said. “We all want to go out there and beat a side like Sunderland and I think we’re more than capable of doing that. Whoever plays for them we’ll be doing what we can to be in the hat for the next round.
“We’re in good form, we’ve won three games on the bounce now, and we want that to continue. The only way to do that is to get games like this right, and then to carry it on into the weekend.
“Obviously it’s going to be nice for me to go back to Lincoln but at this moment in time all I’m thinking about is the job I have to do against Sunderland. That comes first.”
We'll have more on the official website from Tom Miller later this week where he explains how some lifestyle changes have led to him feeling fitter, stronger and much more confident as he heads into the new season.
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