Bradley revelling in new tricks thanks to Awfs

Sonny Bradley shows his defensive reslience at Hartlepool Picture: Joe Pepler
Sonny Bradley shows his defensive reslience at Hartlepool Picture: Joe Pepler
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Andy Awford’s influence is beginning to tell on Sonny Bradley – and it has also left an impression on his team-mates’ shin pads.

For the past week the caretaker boss has been overseeing training while the hunt for Guy Whittingham’s replacement continues.

A different voice and new approach for the vast majority of the Blues squad, who were not present for the second half of last season when Awford joined then temporary boss Whittingham on the first-team sidelines.

Defensive frailties were a massive contributing factor towards Whittingham’s axing – a challenge for Awford to resolve in the short, short term.

Yet, on Saturday, Bradley starred for Pompey as they secured a goalless draw at Hartlepool – only their fourth league clean sheet of the season.

They will aim to build on that in tonight’s re-staged match with Wycombe (7.45pm).

And according to 22-year-old Bradley, Awford’s instant defensive impact is obvious.

He said: ’Awfs can bore me all day with defensive work if it helps me and the team – let’s do it.

‘I think we did need a little bit more work and maybe Awfs was the right man to come in and do that.

‘From what I have heard from Awfs, when he was a player, he was a no-nonsense player. And in training the other day, he was saying I should go in harder on players and tell them maybe they should have their shin pads on!

‘That’s just the way he is and there is nothing wrong with that. If he keeps drilling us, then I don’t mind doing it.

‘We have done more since Awfs came in, there is no doubt about that. But we did do some before, although maybe not as collectively as a team.

‘This past week, specifically, has been more team orientated, not just as a back four. It has been the back four, getting Johnny (Ertl) and (Shaun) Cooper in the middle sorted, tucking the wingers in, one of the strikers dropping in and just drilling us.

‘We have gone through it and I think it reflected in Saturday’s performance and we kept a clean sheet.

‘I didn’t see much wrong with us defensively against Hartlepool. They had a couple of shots from outside the box but every corner and free-kick which came in we were solid and we kept them out.

‘Tonight is a different story, a different game. We have another 90 minutes and have got to do it again if we want to win.’

Pompey will tonight face a very different Chairboys side to the one that visited Fratton for that October 22 washout.

Gareth Ainsworth’s men have won only one of their subsequent nine matches and are now below the Blues in the table.

Previously, they had been one of the form sides in League Two and the better team in that 45 minutes before the match was abandoned.

Pompey haven’t coped too well since, either, but Bradley is eyeing another clean sheet to provide the backbone for victory.

He added: ‘What has happened all season is a lack of consistency. I cannot remember us even putting back-to-back wins together. Consistency is key now, a few more clean sheets and it win be fine.

‘The manager situation is irrelevant to the players at the minute. We have got to stay together as a team to provide more performances like Saturday.’