Grimsby Town have become the first fourth tier side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup since Cambridge United in 1990 with a stunning 2-1 win over Premier League strugglers Southampton at St Mary’s. Two Gavan Holahan penalties, one in each half, was enough for the Mariners to secure one of the most famous wins in their history.
In 1938/39 they reached the semi-finals of this famous competition, but they haven’t been on a run like this since the second World War and the fish were flying in the away end as the black and white army invaded the south coast. There may have been three tiers and 60 places between the two teams, but Paul Hurst’s men piled the misery on Southampton on a night they will never ever forget.
This is one of the truly great FA Cup upsets, as Holahan converted two penalties in the 2-0 win that left the Premier League’s basement boys Southampton utterly desolate. Ruben Selles seems to have picked up where Nathan Jones left off, and this embarrassing loss in front of a half empty stadium speaks volumes of the state the club is currently in.
- This Arsenal team deserve more respect
- The Sportsman's Football Power Rankings: March 2023
- Today's match betting - Betfred*
It could have been so different as Southamptom dominated the first half. But as Josh Emmanuel whipped a ball into the box on a rare foray forward and as Lyancao stooped to head the ball, instead it struck his hand and gave Holahan the chance to convert. He made no mistake, firing the ball down the middle to the delight of the away end.
Mislav Orsic cut inside and bent one past the post, before he was released again on the left before Carlos Alcaraz fluffed his header. Sekou Mara put one over the bar from ten yards out just before the break and Saints couldn’t find the breakthrough. The home side boasted 73% possession, nine shots in total, two on target but were 1-0 down to a team that had mustered just one shot on target - that penalty.
Southampton were booed off the pitch at half-time, but those boos were drowned out by a wall of cheers behind the goal as the League Two visitors went into the sanctuary of the dressing room with a one goal lead.
Having managed the club from 2011-2016, firstly as joint-manager, this is Hurst’s second spell in charge of the Mariners and he cemented his legendary status last summer as he won that promotion play-off to get Grimsby back into the Football League at the first time of asking. Their never say die spirit saw them hit late winners at Notts County and Wrexham before they won the final against Solihull Moors in extra time.
Duje Caleta-Car started the second half in dismal fashion, as he swung an arm out and threw it into the back of , who went down and the ref pointed to the spot. This time Holahan whipped the ball into the side-netting as Alex McCarthy was given no chance and the visitors doubled their lead.
Caleta-Car made amends for his howler by sneaking in at the back post from a corner and tapping home unmarked to put the hosts back in contention. With James Ward-Prowse on the pitch, they weren’t going to go down without a fight, as the Saints piled the pressure on.
Ward-Prowse’s delivery was causing issues and Joe Aribo couldn’t turn home a cross that was headed down to him. But McAtee had a huge chance of his own as he raced the length of the Southampton half unchallenged, but failed to get a shot away before he was swallowed up by McCarthy. Theo Walcott thought he had scored an equaliser as he turned the ball home, but VAR ruled it out for offside and the Mariners celebrated as though they had scored a third.
The six minutes of added time were painful for the visitors, as Kyle Walker-Peters fizzed one wide with his left foot. But the League Two strugglers held on and the away end erupted, fish and all. The celebrations at full time were absolutely incredible. The first fourth tier team to reach the quarter finals in 33 years. The FA Cup is still magic.
*18+ | Be Gamble Aware