Keegan breathes sigh of relief


LES FERDINAND'S reward for the last gasp equaliser against Chelsea in the English FA Cup yesterday could be a return to his former London club Queen's Park Rangers in the next round.

Ferdinand's 23rd goal of the season after three minutes of injury time gave premier league leaders Newcastle a 1-1 draw and set up a replay on January 17th at their St James' Park home, where they have won all 11 of their league matches this season.

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan, whose side are rated 6-1 joint second favourites with Tottenham to lift the trophy in May Liverpool are 4-1 favourites joked that he had come to expect a Cup trip to London.

We're back down to play Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday, but when Philippe Albert missed a chance near the end I said to (assistant) Terry McDermott that was the only way we were going to Wembley this season.

"The Twin Towers (of Wembley) were looking a long way away with a minute to go, but we've still got a lot to do before we know we're down here again for the fourth round."

Whoever wins the replay will line up for one of five all premier league battles in the last 32.

One is certain at Bolton, where Leeds, who came back from 2-0 down to beat Derby 4-2 yesterday, will be the visitors.

If Manchester City and Wimbledon win their home replays with Leicester and Watford, they will travel to Coventry and Middlesbrough respectively. Arsenal, held 1-1 at home by Sheffield United on Saturday, will meet Aston Villa at Highbury if they triumph in their replay.

Liverpool, 7-0 winners over Rochdale on Saturday, will face the survivor of the replay between Shrewsbury and Fulham.

Hereford, who almost caused one of the all time Cup shocks against Tottenham on Saturday, will travel to White Hart Lane knowing a home tie, against Birmingham or Wolves, awaits them if they can bring off the upset.

Manchester United, who could only draw 2-2 at home against first division Sunderland on Saturday, also face a January 17th replay at Roker Park, with the reward of a visit to Reading if they win.

Charlton, the only side from outside the premier league to beat a premier league team in round three when they knocked out Sheffield Wednesday, have another home tie against fellow Londoners Brentford.

If Stockport can follow their 2-2 away draw with Everton with victory in the replay, they will be at home to the winners of the replay between Port Vale and Crystal Palace.

Everton manager Joe Royle, mulling over his side's dismal display, said "I can't even think about the next round until we think about what is happening in this tie and it certainly won't be easy."