Hatters skipper ready for what he hopes is one of the 'best nights' of his Town career at Kenilworth Road this evening

Skipper cannot wait to take in the atmosphere

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 13th May 2022, 2:04 pm
Sonny Bradley applauds the home faithful against Reading on Saturday
Sonny Bradley applauds the home faithful against Reading on Saturday

Town defender Sonny Bradley is anticipating one of the best nights of his career at Kenilworth Road this evening when he runs out for the Hatters’ play-off semi-final first leg against Huddersfield Town.

The 30-year-old has been on the field for some magical moments during his four seasons at the club, beating Portsmouth 3-2 in League One, and then seeing off Oxford 3-1 to lift the title back in 2018.

He was then on target as Luton began their first Championship campaign in 12 years with a 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough, plus part of the side who scored twice in the final few minutes to defeat Wigan Athletic as well.

However, with the ground packed to the rafters this evening, with what promises to be a red-hot atmosphere, Bradley said: “Some of the fixtures I’ve been involved in the last few years have been great, but I think tomorrow night could and should be one of the best nights at Kenilworth Road in recent years.

“The fans I’m sure will start that off from the first whistle and then it’s up to the players to take care of the business on the field.

"Hopefully for them more than anyone, we can get the win.

“I think at the start of the season we set the tone.

"I didn’t play in the first home game against Peterborough, I was watching it on TV and the fans were electric.

“They are the ones that really start it, people think it’s the players that get the fans going, sometimes at Kenilworth Road it is the fans that get the players going by themselves.

"I spoke about Saturday against Reading and how good the fans were, I actually said it’s the best I’ve heard it at Kenilworth Road and that is saying something.

“You know when it’s a big game.

"Saturday was a big game against Reading because we knew we needed to win.

"Over the past couple of years, against Blackburn, on the last day when we needed to stay up, since I’ve been here, I’ve been involved in some big games.

"We always seem to step up and bring extra energy somehow.

"It is hard to believe we can do that because we give 100 per cent but I think when the crowd get behind you, especially at Kenilworth Road, they give you that extra boost and for me I can’t see anything else apart from us putting in a special performance.”

Boss Nathan Jones knows that the fans have to be on top of their game to give the home players every chances possible of taking a step towards reaching the play-off final at Wembley later this month, as he said: “We’re going to need them as for us, surviving in the Championship is a realistic aim every year.

"The fans have been brilliant, together we’ve managed to do better than that on every occasion so we’re going to rely on them.

"We love a night game at the Kenny, it is the biggest game the Kenny has seen for a hell of a long time so everyone that comes I imagine will be enthusiastic, will be right up for it, because that is what the players are going to be.

"We want to create that atmosphere where if we give them something to get behind then they really get behind the team.”

After recovering from his ankle injury suffered against Blackpool, Bradley, who has back for the 1-0 win over Reading on Saturday, is expected to lead the side out once more for the game.

Speaking about what his emotions will be, he continued: “It will be an incredibly proud moment for myself.

"I spoke about using that word ‘proud’ after the game against Reading and that was the main feeling as I was walking off the pitch.

"Looking around, to be walking off with that group of players, group of staff, my family on the pitch and then the fans obviously there as well, I felt proud to wear the badge, proud to wear the shirt and it will be even more special if we do get to Wembley.”

Despite the frenzied nature of the play-offs and the deafening noise no doubt swirling around the Bedfordshire night sky this evening, Bradley also recognised the need for calm heads from the players, with a second leg in Yorkshire taking place on Monday evening.

He added: “Obviously that is important.

"Games and Kenilworth Road, especially night games, it’s very difficult to stay calm, because they create such a frenetic atmosphere.

“Keeping a lid on it, whichever way it goes, will be hard, but I think we’ve got really good experience in the team, with the likes of Cameron Jerome, Henri Lansbury and Robert Snodgrass.

“Even myself, I feel like I’ve got great experience, and I think no matter how the game’s going, we’re good enough and mature enough to control the situation and the occasion.

“We’re hoping we can start on the front foot, go get an early goal and hopefully we can have a really good evening.”