Evan Ferguson braces as Brighton defeats Grimsby to end fairytale FA Cup run
Evan Ferguson scored a brace as Brighton ended Grimsby’s fairytale FA Cup run in the quarter-finals with a crucial 5-0 win over 15th-placed League Two to earn a last-four draw with Fulham or Manchester United.
Deniz Undav scored within six minutes and 18-year-old Ferguson had a stellar afternoon as he scored twice before Solly March nodded in the fourth and Kaoru Mitoma sealed the Mariners’ fate at Amex Stadium.
Town became only the fifth Tier 4 team in the history of the competition to reach this stage and hoped to achieve what no one had done before by beating their towering Premier League opponents.
The Seagulls’ upcoming trip to the semifinals will be only their third, leaving them in contention to reach their first cup competition since 1983.
Grimsby supporters – over 4,500 of them, many brandishing the Mariners’ signature inflatable Harry Haddocks – flocked to Amex Stadium, where home fans responded with plastic seagulls.
It would always be a difficult task for Town, who sits 76 places lower in the pyramid than Sunday’s opponents. Grimsby had beaten Southampton to get here but Roberto De Zerbis Brighton, looking to Europe, was a different caliber.
Ferguson tested Max Crocombe in the first two minutes with a low shot from inside the box which the visiting keeper coolly bent down to collect.
Grimsby enjoyed a brief spell in the hosts’ half before Brighton attacked again and patiently passed before capitalizing on the best opportunity for an opener.
Moises Caicedo thought the moment was his as he fired a sharp, low shot from the center but was instead thwarted by Crocombe who was there to save but fumbled the stop leaving the waiting Undav within six minutes could strike and bury the rebound.
Supporters of the Mariners school were undeterred and raised their voices as their side threw up a handful of insignificant set pieces and Anthony Driscoll-Glennon made a good slide attack to clear Mitoma’s attempt from a tight angle – although ultimately it looked like it would it go straight across the gate.
Crocombe blocked Undav’s attempt to nod March’s cross while Albion stayed in attack. The hosts drew closer when Pascal Gross – from the right side of the box – sent in a delivery to Mitoma at the far post.
The Japan international reached out to put the ball in goal but instead deflected it wide from six yards.
Several subsequent attempts via Mitoma, Caicedo and Pascal Gross all failed at the net and the visitors did well to interrupt Mitoma’s run in added time to give themselves a chance after the restart.
Instead, Brighton had the early chance when March’s cross grazed the left post from the left and the ball rebounded to Undav, who missed with his unpopular left foot.
However, it didn’t take long for the hosts to pull off the brace. Alexis Mac Allister found Ferguson with his back to goal, who in one skillful movement brought the ball down with his left foot, carried it right at the pivot and hit the goal.
Ferguson completed his brace when Undav passed the ball to him and set the Republic of Ireland international up for an easy finish when he deflected the ball into the bottom left corner.
March sent a header past Crocombe after 82 minutes that seemed to seal the goal-line before Mitoma ensured he was involved in a goal in each of his four FA Cup games this season by scoring Brighton’s fifth goal in the last minute of regulation time scored.