Kevin Keegan refused to rule out returning to full-time management after watching Fulham earn a battling draw with Grimsby in the Division Two play-off semi-final first leg.

Fulham were reduced to 10 men for most of the match but ended with honours even ahead of Wednesday’s second leg.

Keegan said: “I want to help this club achieve its dreams. It’s an unusual club. We have the finance and there’s even more money if we need it.

“I’ve been friends with Ray Wilkins for a long time but there was a major difference on principles. Simply we just couldn’t work together.”

Keegan retains the right to appoint another manager but admits he’s enjoying being back in a tracksuit.

“I like this. The Premier League may be what it’s all about but there’s too much hype,” he said.

“This is real football. It’s just like the real world.”

Keegan did have some bad news ahead of Wednesday’s clash after hearing that Chris Coleman and the influential Peter Beardsley are out with hamstring injuries.

Beardsley was the key to yesterday’s performance and when he limped off late in the match it did not appear there was a serious problem.

The former Newcastle manager will also be without front man Paul Moody whose dismissal later in the first half earns him a three-match suspension.

“Paul made a bad tackle and got it very wrong. He’s apologised to the players so that will have to do. There’s still everything to play for,” he added. Kevin Keegan’s return to front-line management did not go to plan as his expensively-assembled Fulham side failed to overcome Grimsby at Craven Cottage.

The Cottagers were reduced to 10 men for most of the match after Moody was sent off on 40 minutes and they can count themselves lucky they are not taking a deficit into Wednesday night’s second leg at Blundell Park.

Moody’s dismissal for a vicious lunge on Mark Lever set the tone for an edgy second half littered with errors and infringements.

Fulham had enjoyed all the early advantage, with the inspirational Peter Beardsley masterminding their campaign from midfield.

But despite his efforts and the commitments of striker Paul Peschisolido, the hosts failed to turn their pressure into goals and it seemed it would be goalless at the break.

However, Moody’s red card seemed to galvanise Fulham, who overcame their one-man shortage and took the lead deep into injury time.

The hosts found a way through Grimsby’s previously water-tight defence and Tony Gallimore conceded a penalty which Beardsley duly converted.

But Fulham were always going to struggle after the break and Grimsby pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

The Cottagers held firm until a defensive howler gifted Town the simplest of levellers.

Paul Trollope passed the ball across the face of his own box and he could only watch in horror as David Smith collected the ball and calmly slotted it past keeper Maik Taylor.