Hatters captain relished getting 'a bit of stick' from Blackburn fans at the weekend
Town defender Bradley relished exchanges on the bench during 2-2 draw
After over 12 months of playing in front of empty stadiums, Town skipper Sonny Bradley was happy to be on the receiving end of some stick from Blackburn Rovers supporters at the weekend.
The Luton captain was back in a match-day squad for the first time since the trip to QPR, meaning the most fans he had played in front of for a competitive game was the 2,000 when Preston North End visited Kenilworth Road back in December 2020.
Away from home it was a lot longer, 18 months in fact, when Bradley was part of the Town back-line who earned a goalless draw at Wigan Athletic when Luton travelled to the DW Stadium on March 2, 2020.
Although Bradley admitted the Town substitutes had some choice words with a section of the 11,241 Rovers faithful during the contest, he also relished it, particularly as the Hatters had the last laugh courtesy of Luke Berry's stoppage time equaliser to make it 2-2, saying: “I have missed getting a bit of stick, a bit of abuse from fans!
“Obviously there is a line, no-one crossed the line on Saturday but I was sat on the bench for the first half and I was sat two yards from Blackburn fans and had a little bit of an argument.
“They were giving us a bit and I’ve given a bit back.
"I enjoy that sort of environment because when that does happen and we do get our second goal, you can give a little bit back and it feels good.
“It was immense, the noise and giving a bit back to their fans and players, it felt great.”
Despite Town finding themselves 2-0 down at the break, they hadn’t done too much wrong in the opening period according to Bradley, who himself was introduced at the break for Dan Potts, making his first appearance of the season in the process.
He continued: “Watching the game I thought we started well, that’s how we probably want to start games away from home.
"The first 20 minutes I thought we gained good territory, there wasn’t too much in it, we seemed to do the basics well, up until the goal, and that's what it comes down to in the Championship.
"If you don’t do the basics right for all of the game, you usually get punished, and that’s what happened.
"We put ourselves on the back foot, but we’ve got in at half time, we’ve regrouped.
"We’ve recognised that I don’t think we were playing too bad, I don’t think there was too much in the game, they’ve just had two chances and they’ve taken them.
"We recognised that if we stay on top, if we step it up slightly, there’s still something in the game for us.
"We’ve shown that belief, we had a positive reaction and then we had the game-changers that came on, Luke Berry obviously being one of them.
"He’s stepped up and scored two goals for us and he’s earned us a point and we’re really happy about that.”
The Hatters have already trailed 2-0 at half time twice this term, at West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City, and have recent experience of coming back from such a deficit, in matches with Sheffield Wednesday and tonight’s opponents Bristol City, winning both 3-2.
Boss Nathan Jones has revealed he doesn’t rant and rave during the interval preferring to calmly get his message across to the players, something which Bradley thinks is needed, as he said: "The majority of the time that’s the approach and I think sometimes it has to be that way to get the point across.
"There was tactical changes that needed making, personnel that was getting changed, obviously I came on at half-time with instructions to take on, so you have to listen and take it in.
"At some point you have to keep a calm head and recognise what we have to do to go and get a positive result and that’s what we did.”
Although the Hatters are proving more than capable of coming back from two goals down, Bradley also knows Town can't always rely on their fighting spirit and character to achieve such dramatic results, saying: "When you do go two goals down, the other team tends to take their foot off the gas a little bit.
"They come off it and all of a sudden you feel like you can relax a little bit.
"It shouldn’t be that way, that is not the way we want it to be and there is a lot of times in this division where if you go 1-0 down, you cannot get back into the game.
"Teams are good enough in this division to go 1-0 up and then defend well enough to win games.
"We recognise how important that first goal is, especially when we are away from home.
"One time this season the game I watched, Barnsley away, it was the perfect example where if you start on the front foot, you gain good territory and finish the action, you get your shots off and you score goals.
"You can get that one goal and it can be important because you can then set your stall out and get that win so Wednesday night we will be looking for a positive start and we definitely won’t be wanting to concede early."
After experiencing supporters against Blackburn and hopefully this evening at Ashton Gate, Bradley is also looking forward to getting back in front of a full Kenilworth Road for the first time since March 2020 when Swansea City are in town on Saturday, adding: "I missed the first game because of Covid but I have been to the Kenny since.
"Unfortunately I was at the Birmingham game but I was also at the Sheffield United game, I thought we performed really well and we were the better team.
"I have experienced the fans, but it is different when you’re watching because I’d much prefer to be back out there playing.
"If we come through Wednesday okay and my fitness is good, I can make myself available for Saturday, I can put in a shift.
"It is a game I’m hoping we win and if we do score, I want to be part of the celebrations, not only with the players but the fans as well."