Zola offers no excuses after cup shock


Gianfranco Zola refused to blame his goalkeeper or the latest episode in the Carlos Tevez affair for his side losing their Carling Cup tie at Watford 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Hayden Mullins' own goal 20 minutes from full-time ended a traumatic day that, by Sheffield United's estimation, could cost them £30million after a tribunal ruling over the eligibility of Tevez two seasons ago.

"I can't tell him (Jan Lastuvka) anything because he made a fantastic save before he was very unlucky," said boss Zola.

Zola refused to blame off-the-field matters either, adding: "I didn't even know about this (tribunal ruling). I don't want to have any excuses like that."

Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd did not feel the stroke of luck for the winner made up for the 'phantom' goal his side conceded against Reading at the weekend.

He thought there may have been a conspiracy when Peter Walton - who gave a penalty against Watford two years ago when the ball struck Chris Powell's head - was named as a late replacement for Kevin Stroud as referee.

"I did smile when I saw it was him. I thought we'd get Peter or Kevin Friend who didn't give the goal in the play-offs," Boothroyd said.

"There are no hard feelings and you hope at some point in your life you get the rub of the green. But it doesn't make up for Saturday. Not after that. We're due a bit more luck.

"Keith Stroud was ill so we had Peter, who I know because he gave a handball for a faceball.

"I saw him at a service station after the game in a toilet and told him he made a howler - but he is a very good referee and he did well again."

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