Notts County: Francois Zoko says 'sorry' for red mist
THE red mist had lifted and on a snowy Monday morning at St George's Park, Notts County's Francois Zoko cut a very sorry figure.
Usually so smiley, the Ivorian forward looked shamed, after being so stupidly sent off against Sheffield United at Meadow Lane on Saturday for swearing at referee Mark Haywood.
Keith Curle, his manager, was the first to receive an apology, then his team-mates, and then Zoko wanted to say sorry to the Magpies' fans too.
"I'm so disappointed in myself," he said, quietly and with his head bowed a little. "I apologised to the lads and the gaffer when I got in and I want to say sorry to the fans as well – this is all I can do.
Cheap Van Insurance For 17,18 & 19 Year Old Drivers - Call Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Cover Included valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
"We didn't lose, but if we were all still on and it was 11 v 11 we could have won the game."
Having been fined by the club, Zoko will now also be hit by a two-game suspension.
It all happened on 25 minutes as Zoko was first booked for dissent, after a foul was given against him, and then shown a straight red for using offensive language.
"I was disappointed, I spoke and said you've already made a mistake two times," he added. "I didn't speak nicely I know, but it was frustration.
"I can explain it, but I can't excuse it. I know I was wrong to do it, but I can't do anything about it now, I have to look forward.
"And when I can play I am going to try and do something better to make up for it."
Having accepted his apology, Curle only had one thing to add.
"I can guarantee he will be fit when he comes back," he said.
Zoko is clearly going to be worked hard in training as punishment, while he could begin his ban tonight if the Magpies face Oldham Athletic in League One on home soil.
It is scheduled to kick-off at 7.45pm, but there is a 10am pitch inspection.
The Magpies beat the wintry weather to play the Blades and frost covers were put straight back on the pitch after the final whistle.
But there has been heavy snow and freezing temperatures since Saturday so the game is in doubt.
It is a game that has already been rearranged once because the Latics reached the third round of the FA Cup, beating Nottingham Forest, and Curle does not want it postponed again.
"We want it on," he said. "Everyone worked really hard to get Saturday's game on and we will be doing the same again for tonight so we hope the weather is kind to us."
He wants it on because he believes his side can build on their stirring fight-back against United, as Alan Judge netted on 80 minutes to make it 1-1 after Notts conceded after just 67 seconds.
"I must admit I was stood there on the touchline after 60-odd seconds on Saturday wishing it would start snowing," joked Curle.
"I'm glad it didn't now because even when we went a goal down so early and then a man down, we fought back brilliantly and the longer the game went we got better.
"They wanted the final whistle more than we did because we had that belief that we were going to go on and win the game. That was testament to the players that were out there.
"It would have been easy for them to fold, but they didn't.
"They kept playing, they all still wanted the ball and they found that bit extra to get a result.
"I found out a lot more about the character I have in the dressing room.
"It felt like a victory getting a goal so late and we need to build on it now.
"The first thing we need to do is start our next game better than we did on Saturday and not give any silly goals away, then we need to keep 11 men on the pitch.
"Too many times this season we've had players sent off for needless things. I can accept a mistimed tackle all day long, but I won't accept arguing with referees and linesmen and lazy defending because it costs us.
"It is very difficult to control individuals, but we do send them all out with a positive mental attitude.
"We don't send them out saying 'don't do this or don't do that', but they know if they use abusive language or throwing their arms around they are going to sent off.
"We have to stamp that out because having 11 men on the pitch gives us the best chance of winning games."