Holmes, who turned to professional football after finishing his degree, netted late in the game to give the struggling division two side an improbable 2-1 victory away to League One’s Brighton and Hove Albion – 37 places above them in the league ladder – in front of 5,857 spectators at the Withdean Stadium.
The team’s reward for their giant killing act is the chance to do it again – only on a bigger scale – this time with a fourth round home tie against Middlesbrough of the Premiership.
Manager Billy Dearden was full of praise for Holmes’ efforts after he was drafted into the starting 11 only weeks after joining ‘The Stags’ because of injuries to first choice strikers.
After the game the match winner commented: “I didn’t realise the goal was enough to get us into the FA cup fourth round for the first time in 20 years, so that makes it even better.”
Holmes has signed a one-year deal and is hoping to extend that into a full career – but his journalism skills are a useful backup, as he recently told the Mansfield Chronicle: "I have always dreamed of being a professional footballer," he said.
"I have completed a degree in journalism at Sheffield University last year so I do have that to fall back on, but I am still young enough to give this a try as I have always wanted to play football.
"I am absolutely loving it to be honest."
"I am having a great time. I love the training and I love the atmosphere in the changing room.
"It has given me the chance to see what professional football is like and now I am getting used to it.”
The tie against Middlesbrough takes place on January 26.