Bradley never imagined breaking his Hatters duck in such style

Sonny Bradley volleys home his first goal for the Hatters
Sonny Bradley volleys home his first goal for the Hatters

Town captain Sonny Bradley admitted he never thought he would open his account for the Hatters in such stunning style as he managed against Middlesbrough on Friday night.

With 17 minutes gone and the Hatters trailing 1-0, the 27-year-old defender picked up a second ball outside the visitors box, before rifling a volley into the roof of the net beyond Ireland keeper Darren Randolph.

It ended a drought stretching back to February 17, 2018, some 59 games ago for Bradley, who said afterwards: “I’d love to say yes I had it planned and that’s exactly how I wanted it to be, but it’s one of them, you can’t rehearse those goals.

“I can’t remember what happened too much, but the ball’s fallen down to me, I’ve chested it down and it’s just bounced up nicely for me, it’s a clean strike and I’m buzzing it’s gone in.

“I probably thought my first goal was going to be from a set-piece, as I had so many chances last season and it was disappointing I didn’t score, but it wasn’t.

“I don’t know how far out I was, a 20, 25 yard volley into the top corner, I’m not going to complain about that.

“We do a little bit of shooting now and again, I try and get involved, but you don’t really expect to be in those positions on the pitch.

“But when the ball popped up it was in a really nice area, I got a clean strike obviously and I’ve seen the goal go in and I’ve gone off and celebrated.

“I haven’t celebrated for a while, I haven’t got a goal for a while so I’m not sure what I did then either.

“But it’s positive, my first goal for the club and I want to build on that now and see how many I can get this season.”

Bradley had been something of a regular on the scoresheet while at former club Plymouth, and had wanted to carry that on with the Hatters.

Although it took 51 appearances in which to do so, he admitted he would be a keen viewer of the highlights that evening, continuing: “I’ve been getting a fair amount of stick on Twitter, as I scored 11 goals in two seasons (for Plymouth), so I think the Luton fans were expecting a few goals from me and I couldn’t deliver that last season.

“So for me, it’s a goal worth waiting for and when I see it back, I don’t know how many times I’m going to watch it if I’m honest, it could be close to 50 times.

“I’ll watch it and it’s something I can be proud of and I can build on that.”

Boss Graeme Jones joked that his centre half opening the scoring with such a glorious effort was part of his preparations, saying: "We work on that every day, I always put those sessions on.

“Second phase of a corner and get Sonny Bradley on them, it was well planned.”

Striker James Collins, who netted on to ensure the Hatters picked up a point couldn’t quite believe what he had seen either.

He said: “No never (has he done that in training).

“He’s usually an aerial threat but he scored a great goal and I’m delighted for him.

“I know it was playing on his mind last year that he didn’t score, so for him to get his goal, I’m delighted.”

Bradley wasn’t the only defender on target and the only one ending a barren run, as Martin Cranie popped up with his first goal in just under five years, making it 2-1 from Andrew Shinnie’s corner.

The skipper added: “We’ve worked on our set-pieces this week, as we weren’t so good last week.

“We played Norwich on Saturday and conceded from a couple of set-pieces and our attacking set-pieces weren’t the best, so we’ve gone away this week and really worked on it.

“It’s a fantastic ball in, I don’t think I’m too far away from it myself, but Martin’s made a great run, nice clean contact and it’s a good goal.

“From then on, we were in the game and that’s helped us get the draw.”