London Saints

Grimsby Home FA Cup 5th round Lost 1 – 2

An evening 5th round F.A. Cup tie still brings back memories for some of a heady night in 1976 when Lawrie McMenemy’s team blew West Brom apart in the opening half at a packed Dell. 47 years on things were very different as only 17,000 turned up to see Grimsby at St. Mary’s, and approaching 25% of them were visitors – this being 2023, most were accompanied by an inflatable fish. And, this being 2023, manager Sellés chose to rotate his side, although we may have to wait a couple of days to see if McCarthy for Bazunu was more than mere rotation. What happened was was that this season’s shell-shocked bunch gave arguably the most shambolic performance of a miserable campaign, and only the fact that we were up against League 2 opposition kept the scores level until half time approached. Then Emmanuel got away down the right and sent in a cross that Lyanco attempted to head clear but only managed to let the ball hit an extended arm; when the ball fell to Clifton, McCarthy saved well but the drama was only just beginning and both VAR and the match referee spent a long time examining the evidence before awarding a penalty that Holohan converted – I suspect time was being taken to see if the ball had touched a legal part of Lyanco’s body first. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, another centre back, Ćaleta-Car, showed that they could as he shrugged of the attentions of Orsi. He was unlucky that there must have been a sniper in the crowd firing at exactly the same time because Orsi went down as if shot and again Holohan, who had not even been allowed to take Town’s missed penalty in a League game four days earlier, was successful from the spot. With the starting XI proving useless, we turned to the bench and at least gave the situation a go in the last half hour, mainly through the efforts of newcomers Ward-Prowse and Walcott. Ćaleta-Car was left unchallenged from a JW-P corner and swept in a goal to make it 1-2 before Walcott netted an apparent equaliser; alas VAR found him to be offside. By then Grimsby might have been out of range anyway, but for a heavy touch by McAtee in a one-on-one situation with McCarthy after poor play by Perraud. As it was, their two penalty goals created too great a deficit for Saints to haul in and thoughts turned instead to a 5th round defeat against lower tier opposition (Wrexham, old Division 3) in 1974… guess what happened to us that year? 

Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:  

8. James Ward-Prowse. Only 37 minutes pitch time for him, but he constructed more than any who managed the whole 90 + 6.

32. Theo Walcott. Just 39 minutes for Theo, and he’d have been an even more serious contender had his ‘goal’ stood. 

45. Roméo Lavia. He made way for Ward-Prowse – no-one in the crowd could summon up the energy to level a ‘don’t know what you’re doing’ shout at the manager. 

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