Brighton 5 Grimsby 0: Mariners’ giant-killing over as Evan Ferguson double fires Seagulls into FA Cup semi-finals
BRIGHTON punctured the dreams of Harry Haddock-wielding Grimsby fans as the Seagulls picked off the minnows to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.
The Mariners’ inflatable mascots won’t be making a Wembley appearance next month, as Roberto De Zerbi’s five-star men continued their superb season.
AFPEvan Ferguson scored twice to seal Brighton’s place in the semi-finals[/caption]
Deniz Undav broke the deadlock for BrightonReuters
Brighton march on to Wembley as they seek FA Cup gloryGetty
Deniz Undav put an early end to any fanciful Grimsby dreams after just six minutes and youngster Evan Ferguson sealed their place in the last with a smart second-half double.
Solly March celebrated a new deal this week by crowning the afternoon with his eighth goal of the season, before Kaoru Mitoma netted in the final minute.
Having had a night they’ll never forget at the last round at Southampton, Mariners fans travelled in even greater numbers here.
A total of 5000 made the trek down to the south coast, with the club shop having flogged 3000 of their famous blow-up fish.
They took over Brighton Pier in the morning before packing out the away end, making a racket and raising a display of black and white stripes with three red fish as the players made their way out.
“We only sing when we’re fishing”, was the chant from kick-off, but there was little hope of the Mariners returning with a memorable haul here.
And Brighton had them on the hook from the off.
De Zerbi, watching from the stands following a second suspension of the season, named a strong side – making just four changes from their midweek win over Crystal Palace.
APFerguson showed his class with an accomplished turn and finish for his first goal[/caption]
Moises Caicedo, who Brighton turned down a £70million bid for in January, and World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister were dictating things from the middle.
The latter carved the League Two visitors open inside 60 seconds, teeing up Ferguson who saw his low strike held by Max Crocombe in goal.
The Grimsby stopper wasn’t so sharp five minutes later, spilling a drive from Caicedo, allowing German striker Undav to slip in and roll home the early opener.
It put an end to Grimsby’s hopes of a first FA Cup semi-final since 1939, but did not dampen the spirits in the away end.
Brighton were in control, but then came dangerously close to shooting themselves in the foot on the edge of their own box.
Under pressure from Danilo Orsi, Robert Sanchez – demoted to second choice keeper here in recent weeks – picked up the ball, though it appeared to be just outside his area.
Replays were inconclusive, so Sanchez was let off and the Seagulls went back to clocking up the chances.
AFPSolly March bagged Brighton’s fourth with a diving header[/caption]
Mitoma somehow turned a low cross wide of the far post from three yards out, before Caicedo drilled a low one the other side of Crocombe’s goal.
De Zerbi, usually a frantic figure on the touchline, would have been wincing in his seat at the missed chances.
Undav sent another opening over the bar from close range after March’s deflected cross had bounced back off the post, but moments later Ferguson was on hand to settle the nerves.
The towering 18-year-old lifted his left foot high in the air to bring down Mac Allister’s clipped ball, before swivelling and slotting home.
De Zerbi looked far more settled after that, tapping out a text as the cameras cut to the Italian amid the celebrations.
Ferguson saw a second ruled out for offside but there was nothing wrong when he converted on 70 minutes.
Undav showed smart feet to prod the ball through to the Irish striker, who drove into space and lashed a left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
Brighton started resting legs with a number of changes, but their opponents were tiring and March capped a relentless display with a low header from Adam Webster’s cross to make it four.
It was open season now as Mitoma’s hopeful effort deflected off Mariners captain Luke Waterfall in the final minute – the Japanese international bending another wide of the post moments later.
De Zerbi is determined to make history at Brighton in the league and cup this season and now they are just one game away from a shot at a first ever major trophy.
ReutersKaoru Mitoma was at his devastating best but did miss a couple of good chances[/caption]