Counago defends himself in spitting row

AN AGGRIEVED Pablo Counago has today spoken out publicly for the first time as he defends himself against spitting allegations and violent conductCounago strenuously denies spitting at Scunthorpe's Andy Butler after being elbowed in the face centre half and said he was made to feel 'a criminal' after the game.

Derek Davis

AN AGGRIEVED Pablo Counago has today spoken out publicly for the first time as he defends himself against spitting allegations and violent conduct

Counago strenuously denies spitting at Scunthorpe's Andy Butler after being elbowed in the face centre half and said he was made to feel 'a criminal' after the game.

The Blue are also appealing against the red card after the Spaniard was sent off along with Scunthorpe's Jack Cork for violent conduct and faces a three match ban for that offence if found guilty.

He also faces a further three match ban if the FA find he is guilty of spitting but Counago and Ipswich Town are today mounting a strong case in his defence on that too.

Earlier this week Counago denied spitting at the player and was getting rid of blood in his mouth after being elbowed in the face but Scunthorpe manager Ian Adkins, who never actually saw the incident but took Butler's word, had described the Town's player's actions as 'disgusting' accusing him of spitting in the centre-half's face.

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Counago, who had been on the end of raw treatment by Butler throughout the game, said: “The number 18 (Butler) was leading with his elbow raised and he caught me in the face.

“He cut my mouth and I had blood in my mouth. I did spit out the blood but not in his face. He is three or four yards away from me. It could not have happened.

“The comments from their manager have upset me. When you read the papers and hear him say that I spat in the player's face, it makes me feel very bad. It makes out that I am a criminal.

“Probably their manager believes his player when he said I spat at him. I can understand that but it was not right.

“Their manager speaks about respecting the game of football. I have never spat at a player in my life. What about the player elbowing me? Where is the respect in that?

“They kicked me without the ball being there. Where is the respect in that?

“Of course maybe it is wrong to spit on the pitch anyway but it was not at the player and I was spitting out the blood.”

Blues boss Jim Magilton had warned he would 'throw the kitchen sink' at Counago if he had spat at another professional but after reviewing an initial DVD on Sunday was satisfied Counago had not spat at the player and rather than take action against him has defended his player.

Magilton said: “I have spoken to Pablo about the incident and he assures me he did not spit in their player's face.

“I would come down hard on any player that I feel is guilty of spitting in the face of a fellow pro but Pablo says he didn't do that and I believe him.

“He doesn't lie and I will stand up for him. I have watched the video and he gets caught by an elbow and spits out blood.

“It may be in the vague direction of a player but it is nowhere near the players and certainly not in the lad's face.”

Magilton watched another DVD last night, sent by Scunthorpe, which Town will use in evidence as part of Counago's defence against both incidents.

Counago has also denied the tussle with Cork was a red card offence, for either player, and has spoken up for the teenage defender..

“The number 16 (Cork) touched me with his hand in my face. I just pushed it away. I hope the video can show that. It was nothing. We did not deserve to be sent-off, their player or me..

“The player tried to pinch me on the nose. I tried to stop him. I was just pushing him away. It was nothing. If one player had to be sent off, it was the number 18.

“When I came off the pitch I spoke to their manager. I said to him the problem was the number 18 not the number 16.”

Magilton said: “We have looked at the video and it is handbags at best.

“We think we have grounds for an appeal and will be putting together video evidence to back our case.

“Their lad puts his hand in Pablo's face and Pablo just pushes him away. I think the referee could have pulled the two lads together and told them to 'grow up' and left it at that.”

Counago faces a total six-match ban if found guilty of both offences, which would keep him out of action until the Hull City game on the final day of the season.

The FA could also add an extra game's ban if they consider the appeal frivolous, while Scunthorpe have already indicated they will not appeal Cork's sending off.

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