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Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Grimsby Town – prediction, team news, line-ups

Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Grimsby Town

Brighton & Hove Albion will do well to avoid complacency as they welcome fourth-tier side Grimsby Town to the Amex Stadium on Sunday with a place in the FA Cup semi-final up for grabs.

The encounter will be the first FA Cup quarter-final to see a Premier League side play at home against a team from outside the top flight since 2016/17.

The Seagulls have their eye on a fairytale end to an already stellar campaign, and Roberto De Zerbi will be keen for his side to get the job done in what should be a fairly easy contest.

Brighton’s FA Cup journey this season has been nothing short of sensational, swatting aside Championship club Middlesborough before overcoming Liverpool in previous rounds.

De Zerbi’s side did not find it as easy against a dogged Stoke City despite dominating from start to finish, but Evan Ferguson’s first-half strike earned the Seagulls a deserved win.

All that stands between Brighton and their third-ever FA Cup semi-final berth is a lowly Grimsby side, but they would be naive to underestimate the Mariners, who have shown they are no strangers to stunning teams in higher divisions this season.

Paul Hurst’s side are the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup, but they have been the textbook definition of party poopers in the tournament this season, as every team they have faced so far has come from higher divisions.

Although they needed two meetings to get past Luton Town after playing out a 2-2 draw in the fourth round, the replay fixture saw Grimsby run out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Harry Clifton, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo, and Daniel Amos.

Southampton were the most recent casualties in Grimsby’s memorable run to the quarter-final – even the Premier League side faltered as the Mariners secured a 2-1 victory to set up Sunday’s showdown with Brighton.

Victory over the Saints saw Grimsby become the first team in FA Cup history to eliminate five teams in higher divisions than themselves, 84 years on from their last quarter-final appearance in 1938/39.

Brighton and Grimsby have not faced off in any competition since a league clash in February 2004, where the Mariners ran out 2-1 winners at Blundell Park.

However, the last time these two faced off in the FA Cup was in January 1930 in the third round, where Brighton needed a replay to see off Grimsby – at that time, they were in the Third Division South while the Mariners were a top-flight side.

Match Preview

Brighton & Hove Albion

De Zerbi’s side will fancy their chances of formalising a place in the semi-final as they head into Sunday’s clash on the back of a four-game unbeaten streak (W3, D1).

Solly March scored the goal that proved to be the final nail in Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace coffin as Brighton raced to a 1-0 win over the Eagles on Wednesday.

The European hopefuls sit in seventh place in the Premier League table, having taken seven points from their last three games. 

A Europa League spot is on offer for the winners of the FA Cup, and the Seagulls could hardly have been handed a more favourable tie in the quarter-finals.

Brighton’s most recent trip to Wembley came in the 2018/19 semi-finals, where they were sent packing by eventual winners Manchester City. 

However, as a top-flight side, they have progressed from 14 of their 16 FA Cup ties against teams from a lower division, failing only against third-tier Oxford United in 1981/82 and Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in 2019/20.

They have eliminated Coventry City in 2017/18 and Newport County in 2020/21 in their only two previous FA Cup meetings with League Two teams.

Grimsby Town

Grimsby have been the feel-good story of the FA Cup this season, and they will be looking to earn a slice of footballing history as the first League Two side to reach the semi-finals of the tournament.

Rooted to mid-table in the English fourth tier, Hurst’s side are 11 points off playoff places after recording successive league wins for the first time since October last year thanks to a pair of 1-0 successes over Rochdale and Sutton United.

Since the fourth tier of English league football was created in 1958/59, Grimsby are only the fifth side from that division to feature in an FA Cup quarter-final.

The Mariners have already etched their name in FA Cup history, and with nothing left to lose, Hurst will be rallying his free-scoring side to put in another inspiring display at the weekend.

No team entering from the first round and beyond have scored more goals than Grimsby in the tournament this term (15 – level with Wrexham) – the most by a fourth-tier side in a season since Crewe Alexandra in 1992/93 (also 15).

Team News

De Zerbi will be without Adam Lallana and Jakub Moder for this quarter-final clash as they continue their long-term recoveries. Tariq Lamptey is also a doubt after missing the midweek victory over Palace with a knee problem.

Even with a semi-final at stake, De Zerbi should consider shuffling his pack, with Robert Sanchez returning in goal for Jason Steele.

The likes of Ferguson, Jeremy Sarmiento, and Billy Gilmour could also earn starts at the weekend, while Kaoru Mitoma should keep his place on the left flank.

Grimsby will be without on-loan strikers George Lloyd and Mikey O’Neill, who are both cup-tied for Sunday’s encounter, as is midfielder Stephen Wearne.

Hurst has no real injury concerns and is expected to field his strongest possible line-up as the Mariners look to keep their fairytale run going for much longer.

Brighton & Hove Albion potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Robert Sanchez; Joey Veltman, Adam Webster, Paul Van Hecke, Pervis Estupinan; Moises Caicedo, Billy Gilmour; Jeremy Sarmiento, Facundo Buonanotte, Kaoru Mitoma; Evan Ferguson.

Grimsby Town potential starting line-up:

(3-4-3): Max Crocombe; Andy Smith, Niall Maher, Luke Waterfall; Michee Efete, Bryn Morris, Gavan Holohan, Daniel Amos; John McAtee, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo, Harry Clifton.

We Say: Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Grimsby Town

Grimsby have defied expectations and beat the odds at every round of the tournament thus far, but their exceptional run has to end somewhere.

Goals have been the hallmark of their memorable campaign, which is expected to continue but suffice it to say none of the teams they have faced previously are of Brighton’s calibre.

The Seagulls are expected to shuffle their pack ahead of this encounter, but the quality in De Zerbi’s squad should be enough to end Grimsby’s dream of a fairytale FA Cup finish.

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