RICHIE BARKER hailed Sonny Bradley for one of his best performances in a Pompey shirt in what proved to be a controversial day for the defender.
Bradley came on as substitute just before half-time at Exeter City when Joe Devera limped off with a knee injury.
The 22-year-old proceeded to put in an impressive display in his first appearance since losing his spot to Ben Chorley.
Bradley’s showing earned rich praise from Barker, even though Pompey were still denied a precious victory.
A last-gasp leveller from Liam Sercombe ensured the match ended 1-1.
The result means the Blues slip to 19th in League Two, four points above the relegation zone, though no side in the bottom seven have played as many games as them.
Bradley was involved in a bust-up at the end of the match with a Pompey fan, with the former Hull City defender alleging a supporter attempted to throw a punch at him.
But despite the unsavoury incident, Barker was pleased with the impact of Bradley from the bench at St James Park.
He said: ‘I thought Sonny was excellent. It was probably one of the best 45 minutes he has had to be fair.
‘It wasn’t easy, either, because it’s not as if he was told: “Go and warm up, you’re going on”.
‘You’re literally turning round and saying: “Mate, get your kit and off you go”.
‘He started for a couple of minutes, then it’s half-time and he has got to start all over again. It takes some mentality and he did well.’
Despite a section of Pompey fans alleging Bradley swore during a heated exchange at full-time, Barker was quick to defend the centre-back.
The Blues manager also thanked the club’s supporters for their continued backing.
He said: ‘Sonny was fantastic (in the match) as well.
‘It certainly wasn’t Sonny’s fault and I am sure the majority of fans will appreciate the effort in difficult circumstances.
‘That is just as we appreciate their effort in how far they came in difficult circumstances, so it’s not a good thing to see.’
After getting a taste of first-team football once again, Bradley was keen to move on after his altercation with the Pompey supporter.
He said: ‘I understand the fans’ frustration and I think most of the fans are fine.
‘We appreciate the support and went over to clap them.
‘Ninety nine per cent of the fans are fine but someone has got carried away.
‘I don’t know what he’d try to say to me if I saw him, I’ll probably never see him again.
‘I’ll just leave things at that. It’s unfortunate and there has been a line that’s crossed but I’ll move on.’
BAN SO-CALLED FAN n Page 4