Harry Clifton scored on his 200th Grimsby Town appearance to send the club into the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in 23 years.
Clifton grabbed the only goal of a tight third round tie against Burton Albion as the Mariners made it a hat-trick of League One scalps in this season’s competition.
At a wet and windy Blundell Park, hopes were high that Town could add to their victories against Plymouth and Cambridge and keep their cup run going.
Burton edged a closely contested first half, with the long throw of Tom Hamer being used as their main attacking weapon.
But the Mariners grew in confidence as the half went on and they were the better side after the interval, with Clifton’s goal giving them the reward of a place in Sunday’s draw.
Brendan Kiernan replaced Luke Waterfall in what was the only change to the Grimsby starting XI following the New Year’s Day home victory over Stockport County. Waterfall’s absence meant Clifton wore the captain’s armband for his landmark appearance.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Michee Efete, Andy Smith, Niall Maher and Danny Amos forming the defence. Clifton, Gavan Holohan, Kieran Green and Otis Khan were the midfielders, with John McAtee and Brendan Kiernan linking up in attack.
Anthony Glennon, Shaun Pearson, Alex Hunt, Bryn Morris, Lewis Richardson, Danilo Orsi, Keyendrah Simmonds, Evan Khouri and Sean Scannell made up the nine-man substitutes’ bench.
Burton gave a debut to goalkeeper Jordan Amissah after he signed on loan from Sheffield United on Friday, while former Mariners midfielder Terry Taylor was also among their line-up.
Town were looking to reach the fourth round for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, when they beat Stockport in round three, while the Brewers were aiming to go beyond this stage of the competition for only the second time in their history.
An early free kick from Hamer on the Burton left was headed clear, before the first long throw of the evening from Hamer was also dealt with.
A foul by Taylor gave Town their first free kick on the right, four minutes in. Khan sent the ball from it towards the far post but it was headed away from danger and although they retained possession, the hosts could not create an opportunity in front of goal.
Burton were having the better of the opening exchanges and they won the first corner on seven minutes but the delivery from the flag was headed away at the near post by Efete.
Hamer’s long throw was being used as the visitors’ main attacking weapon and when he launched another one into the penalty area from the left, Tyler Onyango flicked a header over the bar.
Crocombe had to get a touch to a Bobby Kamwa cross to tip it over his bar for a corner on 13 minutes but the danger from the flag was dealt with by Clifton.
Adedeji Oshilaja shot straight at Crocombe from the edge of the box as Burton continued to dominate, before a deep cross from Holohan at the other end proved to be too far ahead of Amos.
Clifton did well to win a corner on the right on 23 minutes as Town started to come into the game but Smith was beaten to the header from Amos’ delivery.
Kiernan sent a good cross over from the left soon afterwards, although nobody in black and white was in place to meet it, with a Clifton cross from the right producing a similar result seconds later.
The offside flag went up against Kiernan as he ran onto a ball from Holohan, then Kiernan was involved again after a short spell of Burton pressure, as he hit a low effort which was comfortably stopped by Amissah.
Clifton was penalised for a foul on the away left but when the ball was sent towards the edge of the box, the whistle blew for a free kick against Oshilaja.
Efete was brought down as he looked to make progress into the Burton half six minutes before the break and after the free kick was taken quickly, McAtee’s ball into the box was met by the Town right-back but his volley deflected off Maher and looped over the bar.
A foul on Green gave the home side another free kick just outside the centre circle and this time, it led to a corner on the right when Maher saw a shot blocked after McAtee sent the ball into the box. Amos’ flag-kick was cleared by Onyango.
One added minute was played and with no further opportunities created by either side during that time, a tight first half finished goalless.
Mustapha Carayol replaced Onyango for the visitors before the restart and Town were straight on the attack as they won a free kick on the right. Khan sent it into the box and after the ball was met by Smith, it broke for Holohan but his shot was blocked.
The early Mariners pressure continued with a corner on the left, which was pushed away for a throw-in by keeper Amissah.
Green fired over the bar from 25 yards after Clifton had done well to regain possession on the right following a cross from McAtee, before Carayol won a corner at the other end but Taylor’s ball was headed clear by Green.
McAtee had an opportunity when he beat the offside trap to run onto a ball over the top from Amos but as the rain fell, he slipped at the vital moment and the chance was gone.
A McAtee shot was blocked after a Khan free kick broke to him at the edge of the box just after the hour, then Kiernan earned a corner after being given time and space to cut inside from the left. The ball was played short and a Holohan shot was deflected wide for another corner on the opposite, right flank, which was eventually scrambled clear.
Kamwa was shown the first yellow card of the game after catching Efete in a challenge near the dug-outs and soon afterwards, Town had their best chance of the game so far. Khan found Kiernan inside the box with a slide-rule pass but his low shot from an acute angle went inches wide of the far post.
Sam Winnall replaced Kamwa in Burton’s second substitution with 20 minutes to go, as manager Dino Maamria looked to respond with the Mariners now getting on top.
Town’s first change saw Richardson come on for Kiernan in attack and another opportunity almost came when Crocombe sent a long ball forward for McAtee, although he was beaten to it by the onrushing Amissah.
But moments later, the Mariners made the breakthrough, as Efete pulled the ball back from the right for CLIFTON, whose 20-yard shot took a deflection and went past the keeper to give the hosts the crucial advantage.
McAtee saw a shot saved by Amissah after good work by Khan on the left as Town set off in search of a second goal which would seal their passage to the fourth round.
Davis Keillor-Dunn came on for the visitors with six minutes remaining, while Orsi and Morris replaced Khan and McAtee for the hosts at the same time.
Amissah was booked for his reaction to a challenge from Orsi, before a Town penalty claim was waved away by the referee just before the game moved into four added minutes.
Town managed the remaining time superbly to ensure their visitors did not get a chance to spoil the party with a late equaliser and the final whistle sparked celebrations after another battling performance got the ultimate reward.
The Mariners and their fans will now look forward to finding out their fourth round opponents in Sunday afternoon’s draw, before refocusing on the league ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swindon Town.