Pardew: Town now look a real force

ALAN Pardew came within a whisker of lifting the FA Cup in 2006, only to be cruelly denied by Liverpool talisman Steve Gerrard.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

ALAN Pardew came within a whisker of lifting the FA Cup in 2006, only to be cruelly denied by Liverpool talisman Steve Gerrard.

Today, he will be looking to stand in the way of Ipswich Town making further progress in the competition.

Pardew was the manager of West Ham when the East Londoners were on the brink of cup glory four years ago, until Gerrard's injury-time equaliser forced a 3-3 draw. The Hammers lost a penalty shoot-out after a goalless extra-time.

Pardew also tasted Wembley defeat as a player, with Crystal Palace in 1990. The Eagles were beaten by Manchester United after a replay.

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Yet Town know, to their cost, that Pardew is also a winner. He twice inflicted Championship play-off semi-final defeats on Ipswich in

2003-04 and 2004-05.

Pardew admitted: "Ipswich is a club I have probably played against more than any other club.

"They are starting to be one of the top teams in the Championship, and who's to say that they won't make a late run to get into the play-offs?"

Town boss Keane has the utmost respect for Pardew.

He said: "Alan Pardew was within 10 seconds of winning the FA Cup with West Ham, when Steve Gerrard then lashed one home from 20 yards.

"Southampton are a good team, with a good manager. They were sharp and they were hungry against MK Dons (in midweek), which I expect from an Alan Pardew team.

"Their results have been good, so their confidence will be sky-high."

However, the Saints have a number of absentees, especially in defence and midfield.

Defenders Jon Otsemobor, Dan Seaborne and Jose Fonte are all cup-tied.

Ex-Norwich full-back Otsemobor, former Exeter City centre-half Seaborne and ex-Crystal Palace 26-year-old Fonte all arrived at St Mary's earlier this month, and have already played in the competition.

But it is in central midfield where the Saints could be at their most vulnerable.

Dean Hammond, the former Colchester United skipper, is out with an Achilles tendon injury, while fellow midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is suspended.

However, Reading loanee Michail Antonio, who scored in Southampton's 1-0 win at MK Dons in midweek, in the first leg of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern area final, is eligible to play.

As is new signing Lee Barnard, who was recruited from Southend for a fee believed to be in the region of �200,000 yesterday. Barnard missed the Shrimpers first round exit at the hands of Gillingham, because of suspension.

Ex-Ipswich Town full-back Dan Harding could also make a return against his old club, after overcoming a cold, while former Town keeper Kelvin Davis will be the last line of defence.

FILLERS

LIKE Town, the Saints have won the FA Cup once in their history. And like Town, it was a surprise win.

Southampton toppled Manchester United 1-0 in the final of 1976, thanks to a late goal from Bobby Stokes, two years before Town beat favourites Arsenal by the same scoreline.

SOUTHAMPTON have won all of the three previous meetings between the two clubs in the FA Cup, including a 7-1 thrashing of Ipswich in 1961.

TOWN have only reached the fifth round of the FA Cup once in the last

13 years, in 2007.