Newcastle boss says he would take a draw as Magpies fly south for FA Cup

Newcastle United managed Alan Pardew has said he would take a draw at The Amex when his top flight Magpies fly south for the Battle of the Birds in the FA Cup Third Round on Saturday.

The former Reading numero uno, who remains unpopular with some sections of the Albion faithful largely as a result of his long-term links to arch rivals Crystal Palace, has told press in the North East that he is expecting an epic contest when the two club’s meet live on TV.

His squad will be in tip top shape when they arrive in Sussex following a short break in Tenerife but Pardew has warned fans not to simply turn up expecting an easy win.

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“It’s a difficult game,” Pardew told BBC Radio Newcastle. “Fans mustn’t under-estimate them – at home, they’re a force.

Brighton will pass the ball, keep it, make us work, and if we feel we can play 90 per cent there and win, we’ll be badly mistaken.

“It’s a professional team at home, one level below, and I’ve been in that position as the other manager.

“If someone said to me (you could) take a draw, I’d take it now – that’s how difficult it is.”

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And it was a sentiment shared by the Geordie’s goalkeeper Steve Harper, who spent a short spell on loan at The Amex earlier in the season.

Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, the custodian said, “Brighton are very comfortable on the ball and play total football, and I can’t see the ball being in the air much.

“They have two very good centre-backs (in Gordon Greer and Lewis Dunk), and have a lot of strength elsewhere too. The Amex will be full and Brighton have nothing to lose.

“It’ll be a lively atmosphere, but it will be up to us to stop Brighton on what will be a tough evening.

“It could be a cracking game.”

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The Albion confirmed this week that Newcastle will not be taking up their full bumper FA Cup allocation of tickets, despite selling out the first batch.

A record crowd is expected for Saturday’s game – the third visit of a Premiership outfit to The Amex this season, following a victory over Sunderland and defeat to Liverpool in the Carling Cup.