We travel to the south coast on Wednesday to take on Southampton in our first Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie since 1996.
After defeating three Sky Bet League One opponents in the opening rounds, the Mariners hit Championship promotion-chasers Luton Town 3-0 at Blundell Park in a Fourth Round replay that earned Wednesday’s tie.
Coming into the match off the back of a promising week that saw Town win at Northampton before home draws to Harrogate Town and league-leading Leyton Orient, full attention now turns to the Saints.
Manager Paul Hurst confirmed earlier this week that Owen Gallacher will miss tonight’s match after picking up a calf issue in training. He joins Kieran Green in being ruled out through injury.
January signings Mikey O’Neill and George Lloyd are unavailable after playing for their parent clubs prior to joining the Mariners on loan, but Tom Dickson-Peters and Josh Emmanuel are eligible for the fixture. John McAtee returns to cup availability after missing both matches against Luton Town due to being unable to play for his parent club.
Striker Ryan Taylor made his third consecutive appearance from the bench, coming on for the last ten minutes, and will hope to continue his comeback against our Premier League opponents.
Recent weeks have seen Jordan Cropper and Otis Khan step up their returns from injury with the manager confirming that the latter will travel with the squad to Southampton.
Currently bottom of the top flight, Southampton come into the match deep in the midst of a relegation battle and their beating the drop will no doubt be the priority for the remainder of the campaign.
Despite beating Chelsea 1-0 away one week earlier, the Saints fell to a 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Leeds United on Saturday, leaving them at the foot of the table and four points from safety.
Between those fixtures, the St Mary’s club appointed Ruben Selles as their manager until the end of the season after the win at Stamford Bridge.,
While sitting in a lowly position, Southampton do boast quality in their squad, none more so than eleven-time England international James Ward-Prowse. The Mariners will have to be careful to avoid conceding free-kicks around the box such is the 28-year-old’s quality from a dead-ball – only the legendary David Beckham has scored more free-kicks than Ward-Prowse with the Saints man just one behind the record.
The likes of Scotland internationals Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong are joined by Croatian Miroslav Orsic – a successful penalty taker in his country’s quarter-final victory over Brazil in the recent World Cup. Experienced head and former England international Theo Walcott is also in their squad but hasn’t featured heavily this season.
The Mariners have faced Southampton twenty-nine times in the past with each side winning nine of those matches. The last of those came in January 1978 when we lost 4-1 to the Saints in an FA Cup Third Round replay – the second replay after the initial match and the first replay both ended 0-0.
The last time Town defeated Southampton was in December 1962 when we won 4-1 in a Division Two encounter.
Wednesday’s match will be officiated by Thomas Bramall. The last time he refereed a Town match was in September 2018 when he took charge of our home defeat to Yeovil Town.
He will be assisted by Derek Eaton and Steven Meredith.
Wednesday’s match will be shown live on ITV4 with the programme starting from 6:30pm. Due Emirates FA Cup broadcast regulations, the match isn’t eligible for broadcast on Mariners TV but subscribers will be able to access live commentary from BBC Radio Humberside.