Brighton secure their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a convincing win over Grimsby Town

Brighton secure passage to FA Cup semi-finals with convincing win over Grimsby Town – Getty Images/Glyn Kirk

Brighton have returned to Wembley four years after their last visit to the FA Cup semi-finals. And in truth, it was more than simple progress. Grimsby Town, hoping they could make their first semi-final in 85 years, were brushed aside without romance or sympathy after recording just two shots on target. Her boisterous fans can now sing again, as they always do when fishing.

Bear in mind that Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi gave Grimsby the credit of picking his strongest line-up, regardless of the three-division difference. Although the fact that this was the last game before the international break probably helped. While serving a sideline suspension, he watched from a box as his assistant Andrea Maldera filled in for him in the technical zone.

From up there he could see the tone set within the first minute as Evan Ferguson had a shot that Max Crocombe pinned to his chest. Five minutes later, Moises Caicedo tried and this time Crocombe couldn’t hold it. It bounced off him and Deniz Undav was the first to react and convert with aplomb.

Even then, so early, it was hard to imagine Grimsby – decked out in the sort of pink shirts unexpected from a Lincolnshire side – would make a comeback. When in possession, their players looked a little scared, like they were pressed for time to get something done. Take the moment when Harry Clifton ran on to a bad pass from Adam Webster but was too overdriven, couldn’t control the ball and ran it easily to Lewis dunk for a decent pass.

Brighton did their best to stay competitive: Karou Mitoma missed a sitter, Dunk nearly scored the comedy own goal of the season and Robert Sanchez was an inch from collecting the ball outside his box and was sent off as a result . But really, they looked perfectly in control.

And shortly after the second half began, Brighton pushed aside any thoughts of a colossal murder. Ferguson scored a lovely goal from the centre-forward, faking and spinning past the defenders before firing home. In his eerie state, De Zerbi responded to the goal by texting. Perhaps his attention had been drawn to another excellent player his club could find for a pittance and then sell on for a fortune.

After one was ruled out by VAR after Solly March was ruled offside in the rapid build-up, Ferguson scored his second with a good run and shot after being sent in by Undav. March continued his scoring streak with a wonderful header to add a fourth and Mitoma finally found the target with a long shot for the fifth.

“We’re on our way to Wembley,” sang the home support. And given the form they’ve shown here, not even their master gambler owner, Tony Bloom, would bet against them going back to the finals.

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