Grimsby scale new post-war heights as they sink Southampton to reach FA Cup quarters

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Roared on by a swathe of fans and fish, League Two Grimsby Town heaped more ignominy on sorry Southampton to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 84 years. 

Two Gavan Holohan penalties saw Paul Hurst’s side bridge a gap of 64 league places between them and the Premier League’s bottom side. 

In doing so, Grimsby become the first club in FA Cup history to beat five sides from a higher division in the same season, doing so in front of 4,300 fans who made the near six-hour journey from east to south coast.  

They will have an opportunity to beat their own record after the quarter-final draw sent them on another away day to Brighton. 

Grimsby manager Paul Hurst said: “Some fans had expectations that we could win and I thought they were mad, but it’s nice that they were proved right.  

Grimsby Town fans – and their inflatable haddocks – enjoyed their evening out down on the south coast Credit: PA/Zac Goodwin

“The players have created history and they deserve their celebrations, although looking round the dressing room I saw a few faces in shock. 

“In terms of the football Brighton play and how they can toy with teams in the Premier League, right now I don’t want to give that too much thought.” 

The usual ingredients of a seismic FA Cup shock were present, including defiant acts of bravery and last-ditch defending from the visitors, while they were indebted to a tight offside decision ruling out a late Theo Walcott equaliser. 

Southampton also missed a host of first-half chances while Ruben Selles, named manager until the end of the season, sent out a side showing nine changes from Saturday’s defeat at Leeds. 

The occasion, though, belonged to Grimsby, a club which reached the semi-finals twice in the 1930s. 

The 1,200 inflatable Harry Haddocks being waved at St Mary’s were almost deflated four minutes in when Adam Armstrong raced clear but saw his rising shot brilliantly saved by Max Crocombe. 

An offside flag then foiled Sekou Mara before Armstrong and Mara, again, wasted further opportunities. 

Grimsby took the lead following a four-minute Var intervention just before half-time when replays showed that Lyanco had partially deflected a Josh Emmanuel cross with his right hand.  

Gavan Holohan twice scored from the penalty sport to send Grimsby Town into the FA Cup quarter-finals Credit: PA/Zac Goodwin

Holohan calmly stroked home the penalty to instigate a wild celebration of waving haddocks. Mara ought to have equalised on half-time but lifted his shot needlessly over the bar. 

That profligacy was punished in the 50th minute when Duje Caleta-Car struck out with his arm into the back of Danilo Orsi. 

Holohan was anything but nonplussed, lifting his second penalty of the evening high to Alex McCarthy’s right. 

Selles responded to the impending humiliation by introducing James Ward-Prowse whose deep corner after 65 minutes dropped for Caleta-Car to volley home from close range. 

Substitute Walcott appeared to spare Southampton when he turned home an 81st-minute Ward-Prowse free-kick only for a tight offside decision to seal Grimsby’s famous passage. 

Selles said: “I’m disappointed by the performance and the result. We didn’t expect that. But it’s difficult when you concede two goals like that. It was not good enough from us.”