KEEPING clean sheets will be Jim McNulty’s top priority for the remainder of the pre-season after Bury leaked a further four goals in two matches this week.
The new Shakers captain revealed his concerns following Friday’s night’s 3-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.
A second-string side then lost 1-0 at Salford City the following day, continuing a trend that has seen Bury concede in all of their five pre-season games so far.
“We are hurting teams that are apparently better than us – higher up the football pyramid,” said McNulty, referring to their performance against the Owls, when Danny Nardiello equalised for Bury against the Championship outfit.
“But what is just starting to step up in my attention is the fact that we are conceding goals that we weren’t conceding last year.
“I am a defender through and through, I think defending all the time and it bothers me. I want to start eradicating these mistakes now.
“We did it (keep clean sheets) last year and we expect to roll straight into that habit again.”
Chris Hussey’s teasing crosses - one of which led to Nardiello’s headed equaliser shortly before half-time - created a whole host of scoring opportunities for Bury.
But the Owls were also handed their own opportunities, with two of their three goals coming from slack defending.
Bury were caught napping in only the third minute as Caolan Lavery threaded a neat ball in behind their defence for Jacques Maghoma to slot home.
And while there was little their back line could do to stop six foot five inch striker Atdhe Nuhiu heading home Wednesday’s second after the break, Bury were once again caught cold for Giles Coke’s third after the former loanee rounded off a breakaway in the 80th minute.
“The first goal we got penetrated down the centre of the pitch, which was disappointing and the third one came from our corner,” said McNulty.
“We should be set up for things like that. They are the ones that really bother you as a defender.”
There were plenty of plus points, however, for the League Two favourites on a night that saw them go toe-to-toe with a virtually full-strength Owls side.
Returning heroes Ryan Lowe and Nicky Adams were busy throughout and showed already that they will be a handful for sides lower down the league pyramid than Sheffield Wednesday.
Of the six new signings on display - including former Owls winger Danny Mayor, stopper Shwan Jalal and second-half substitute Keil O'Brien - it was Hussey who really stood out.
The loanee last season turned down a chance to extend his contract with parent club Burton Albion and showed just why Flitcroft was so eager to make him a permanent fixture as the left-back sent in a string of wicked deliveries.
Of the triallists on show, former Bury midfielder Peter Sweeney did himself few favours after losing his man following the corner that led to Wednesday’s third goal.
Joe Widdowson came on for a second bite of the cherry at left-back after playing 90 minutes against Radcliffe Borough, while former Rochdale and Tranmere midfielder Joe Thompson showed he has recovered from his cancer scare with a lively late cameo.
BURY: Jalal 5; Jones 7, Mills 6 (O'Brien 6 67), McNulty 6, Hussey 8 (Widdowson 6 77); Adams 6, Sedgwick 6 (Sweeney 5 60), Tutte 6, Mayor 6; Lowe 6, Nardiello 7 (Thompson 70).
SHEFF WED: Westwood (Wildsmith 45); Palmer (Floro 88), Hutchinson (Zayatte 45), Loovens (Mattock 45), Helan (Young 88); Antonio, Semedo (Coke 40), Lee (McCabe 60), Maghoma (Corry 77); Nuhiu (Maguire 70), Lavery (Madine 56).
Referee: Darren Handley.