Defender Gary Miller played his first full 90 minutes of pre-season against Bradford on Saturday afternoon and he confirmed afterwards that he’s looking forward to this weekend’s season opener against Exeter as the clock ticks down to the big kick off.
“It was a good test against a League One side and we did well, so it’s a game we were pleased to win,” he told us. “First and foremost, from a defensive point of view, we go out in every game to try to get a clean sheet and it’s great for us that we did that.
“It’s even better for Benno [Richie Bennett] and the lads to get the win at the end, because that’s important for the group. But for the defenders we made sure there weren’t too many clear-cut chances and it was a good game for us.
“We kept our shape right across the pitch and that’s something the manager has asked for. He’s keen on us talking to each other and he wants everybody to be leading and telling each other what to do. That happened and that meant everybody was trying to implement his instructions.
“He’s started to work with us on shape and things like that and I’m sure we’ll get better the more we do that kind of work with him. We’re still getting used to how each other plays and how we’re going to move together, but it’s definitely coming together.”
“I was disappointed to miss a couple of games with a back strain, but it was good to get 90 minutes in and I felt fine at the end of it,” he continued. “It’s always hard to judge how fit you are until you play a league side but there were no problems.
“Mind you, I wasn’t too pleased with my first back-pass. I thought Gary [Liddle] had shouted ‘keeper’ when I got the ball, but he’d actually shouted ‘keep it’ so I thought I was passing it to him. It was my fault and the good thing was that we worked fine after that and we got ourselves going.
“The pitch is in great condition and the fans were keen to get behind the lads as well, which I enjoyed. They could tell that we wanted to work hard and the ones who turned out really wanted to get behind us. That’s brilliant to see.”
One noticeable development during the game was his blossoming partnership with forward Jerry Yates on the right flank, which brought some excellent reactions from the crowd.
“It was great to play with him,” he told us. “I’ll just back him up and give it to him because it looks like he’s capable of doing anything at the moment.
“He was non-stop in how he did things so there was no need for me to get in his way. I think he was doing a great job himself by giving their left back a really hard time.
“He was like a buzz-bomb flying about and I was able to just feed him the ball and let him get on with it.”
The back line against the Bantams boasted a wealth of experience, with Gary Liddle, Danny Grainger and Tom Parkes making up the remainder of the quartet, but he was quick to point out that the younger lads have a part to play as well.
“Having that experience helps, of course it does, but the manager is always saying that we need to make sure we’re helping the younger lads,” he said. “It’s good for us to be able to do that. For myself, it’s just good to be out there and playing and, with quite a few new players involved, it’s quite exciting.
“I was delighted when for wee Jack [Egan] to get on. He’s a good player and he just needs a bit of confidence and belief in himself. I’ve spoken to Jack and I’ve told him to make sure he’s working hard every day. As a young lad you’re not going to play every game, and you might be disappointed that you haven’t been involved, but sometimes managers test you.
“He needs to stick in because he’s definitely got the ability, and it’s just about learning the game now. He’s definitely got it in his locker and the experience will come for him from playing games. I’ve actually helped him and I’ve told him that if he wants to wait behind for us to do stuff, I’m available, so that should be good for him.”
Next up for the Blues is that season opener at Exeter this coming weekend.
“We’ll all be up for it because every player wants to win the first game of the campaign,” he said. “It always has a bit of an edge but I know we’ll have a good week, we’ll build up towards it and we’ll go there hoping to get the victory.
“It definitely does feel different when it’s a competitive league game. I’ve played against them before and they’re always a good passing side. It will be hectic, and stuff like that, but I’m sure we’ll set up well and be ready for it.”
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