STRIKER Calvin Zola is hoping to leave former club Crewe Alexandra dazed and confused tomorrow — having overcome his own head injury — by maintaining his record of having scored in every FA Cup match he has played in for Burton Albion.
The 27-year-old frontman returned to action in the 3-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday having suffered a blow to the head which forced him off after 21 minutes of the Brewers’ 3-2 home victory over Dagenham & Redbridge a fortnight ago.
He sported a skull cap for his comeback against the Chairboys, but says he is fine — and is now looking to give the Railwaymen a major headache on his return to Gresty Road for the FA Cup second round clash.
Zola scored in each of his previous four outings for the Brewers in the competition and has found the target in his last five FA Cup appearances.
He said: “I have a good record of scoring in the FA Cup for Burton and it’s something that I look at, trying to score as many goals as I can, and the FA Cup is no different — I’m just trying to do my bit for the team.
“I am part of the team, we’ve got a great squad, but obviously we’re just trying to get some goals and if that comes and it results in a nice run in the FA Cup for Burton, it’s a fantastic thing.
“But I’ll just be happy to go there and get a win against my old team really.”
Zola’s debut for Albion came in the FA Cup and he scored their goal in a 3-1 fourth-round defeat at Championship side Burnley in January of last year.
Last season saw him bag the Brewers’ effort in another 3-1 loss — at Oldham Athletic in the first round — while in first round action earlier this month, he grabbed a 93rd minute equaliser to secure a 3-3 draw at home to Blue Square Bet North side Altrincham before scoring in the 2-0 replay victory.
His last FA Cup outing for Crewe also saw him score once — in a 3-2 defeat away to York City.
While obviously proud of his record in the competition, the 6ft 3in striker is only concerned with hopefully helping the Brewers claim another FACup scalp — and is confident they can do just that despite going into the tie on the back of successive League Two defeats at the hands of strugglers Aldershot Town and Wycombe.
“I’m obviously looking forward to going back to Crewe,” he said.
“It’s gonna be a tough game, but it will be a good game to try and get back to winning ways, and I’m sure if we play the way we know how we can perform, we can go and get a result.
“We’ve shown throughout the season against the top, top teams that we can do a job — so why not against my old team?”
Zola admitted he was conscious of his head injury against Wycombe, but said it did not affect his performance and is confident he will be back to the form which has seen him bag eight goals already this season.
“I’m not gonna find any excuses, the head is just one of those things in football and I’m just gonna get on with it,” he said.
“You know, I’m just trying to play some football.
“I wasn’t thinking about my head. At times, obviously, you’re gonna be conscious of it, but that shouldn’t have stopped me trying to just perform to the best of my ability.
“I’m not gonna say my head is a problem or anything because that’s just part of football.
“You just have to get on with it and hopefully now it’s gonna be okay and I’ll get back to play the way I would want it to be.
“My head is fine, I was obviously just getting a little bit of protection.
“It’s not an excuse. Things I should have done better or not, it’s nothing to do with the head.
“I’ll see how it goes from next week, but I’m sure that we can put everything right.”
Zola was left poleaxed after an early clash of heads against the Daggers and, despite getting back to his feet, he was forced off when it became obvious he was still disorientated and dazed.
He said: “It was a nasty injury when it happened and I was very dazed, but now I think it’s about seven to 10 days trying to clear and hopefully now all of that is behind me, and I’m just trying to look forward to scoring a few goals and to get back up in the league.”
Despite Albion’s terrific start to the season having been somewhat derailed by two successive defeats, Zola believes the Brewers can get back on track against the Railwaymen.
“We worked very hard to get in that position against the top sides — away and at home — and it is disappointing when you look at the last few games, where we should have picked up the points,” he said.
“I know football is not straightforward — you don’t play football on paper — and it has shown in the last couple of games, where we thought that we should have won but didn’t.
“That’s part of football and we’re professional enough to just say ‘okay, it didn’t quite go as well as it should have’, but we’re not gonna hide, we’ll keep sticking our necks on the line, keep working hard, go back to basics and try to get back to winning ways.
“We’ve shown throughout the season that we are a very good side and can be a very good side, and hopefully we can get back on track and get back to winning ways, and try and challenge for promotion.”