Better-known for its fishing industry, fourth-tier minnows Grimsby Town splashed some FA Cup magic by knocking out Premier League Southampton to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 84 years on Wednesday.
With 4,000 fans making the long journey from the Humber Estuary to the Solent, many wielding inflatable haddocks, Grimsby belied their lowly status with a deserved win.
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Two penalties netted by Gavan Holohan either side of half-time sealed a 2-1 victory on one of the biggest nights in Grimsby’s history and their reward is a trip to top-flight Brighton and Hove Albion in the last eight — a clash destined to be billed as the Seagulls versus Haddocks.
Manager Paul Hurst described it as a ‘miracle’ as his side became only the sixth team from the fourth tier or below to reach the last eight of the FA Cup Cup since the introduction of the division in 1958-59.
“I’m in shock a little bit. Just delighted for the players. What an effort. We kept disciplined. Look at what that means to the support,” Hurst said as the visiting fans celebrated loudly.
“We turned up, hoping for a miracle and to be in the quarterfinal is incredible. It is just a fantastic day, we have gone down in the history books. It is a very special day.”
Grimsby’s hearts were in their mouths as Duje Caleta-Car gave Southampton a lifeline and then Theo Walcott appeared to have equalised with 10 minutes to go, only for his effort to be chalked off by VAR for offside.
Grimsby’s win means they are the first team in the competition’s history to eliminate five different teams from a higher division in one season.
“I know that there were a few who thought we could get a result going into it, but maybe I thought they were crazy,” Hurst told the club’s Twitter feed.
“But when we went two up a few more started to believe.”
For Premier League bottom club Southampton, it was another low point in a miserable season.