Bury Town's Ian Miller says they must shore up their defensive failings in order to keep their Bostik League North Division play-off ambitions alive
Former professional Ian Miller admits he could be fighting for a place in Ben Chenery's Bury Town side, if he does not find a way to help shore up a leaky defence.
The player who made more than 200 appearances across spells at Darlington, Grimsby Town and Cambridge United from returned to his boyhood club after 12 years away and has cemented his first-team position at the heart of Bury's defence with 23 appearances.
But ahead of Saturday's home game with fellow Bostik League North Division play-off hopefuls Canvey Island (3pm) he feels his place in the team could soon be in jeopardy, with the Blues having shipped six goals in their first two games of the year – both 3-2 losses.
They first fell to a 3-2 home defeat to AFC Sudbury in the New Year’s Day derby before losing by the same scoreline on the road to Grays Athletic last Saturday.
“It’s not good enough defensively,” Miller continued. “Shipping six goals from our last two is terrible and it’s not something any of us enjoy.
“It’s really frustrating and, as a team, it just hasn’t clicked. But there’s been a lot created, and that’s something to take from our efforts.
“In fact, those six goals came from our chances, as we were hit on the counter and that’s something we have been working on. A clean sheet is definitely a big focus for me this weekend, or I might find myself on the bench.”
He said the next few games are vital in the club’s ambitions of achieving a play-off spot this season, although the team are deliberately not looking too far ahead.
“Every single game is tough now,” he said. “But we know results can chop and change, we can find ourselves go up or down several places with just one result.
“We have aspiration as a club to make those play-offs and we know, as a squad, that we are good enough but the time has come to turn that belief into points now, starting with Canvey Island.”
It will be the third game in a row that Bury will take on the side a place below them in the league table, having lost the last two and dropped two league spots.
They went a goal behind on the stroke of half-time on Saturday at Grays Athletic before Kyran Clements equalised in the 72nd minute.
But Grays scored again four minutes later before sealing the win with a third goal in the 82nd minute.
Cemal Ramadan pulled back a goal in the 90th minute but could not prevent defeat.
Bury will go into Saturday's game without one of their defenders, Jake Kerins, after he sealed a move to higher-league King's Lynn Town on Thursday evening.
And Miller believes situations like these are among the hardest jobs for a ‘gaffer’ to handle.
“He has no control over clubs coming in for players, and can only respond if they do,” he said. “It’s incredibly tough for a manager to keep a whole squad happy with their game-time and feeling like they’re all contributing, that’s where youth squads and under-23 games can help.
“If you get picked for the side, it’s your chance to show what you can do, and prove to the manager why you should be in that first team. Then it’s up to the gaffer to call it.”
* Follow @HannahDolman1 for live updates and insight from Saturday afternoon's crucial game at the Denny Bros Stadium.