Stevenage boss Evans eyeing another big FA Cup upset

Stevenage boss Steve Evans

Steve Evans says he is dreaming of setting up an FA Cup clash with one of the Premier League’s top clubs if his Stevenage side can get past Stoke City this afternoon.

The Stevenage boss oversaw one of the FA Cup’s biggest ever shocks in the third round as late goals from Jamie Reid and Dean Campbell saw the League Two side knock out Premier League Aston Villa.

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It is not the first time Evans has guided one of his teams on a memorable cup run, reaching the FA Cup fifth round with then non-league Crawley Town in 2011 only to be narrowly beaten by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“I think I’m one of the few managers who have left Old Trafford after a 1-0 defeat almost in tears,” he said.

“We should have won that game 3-1. I think Sir Alex said it in the press afterwards. He said it to us privately.

“It’s long a time ago now but when you’ve got that, you want to believe in more of it don’t you?

“For us to be in the fourth round, our dream would be to do something improbable which is to get through against Stoke and then draw another elite club and see what we can go on and achieve against them.

“But we can only think of Stoke. They’re elite as far as we’re concerned. They’ll probably have one guy on the pitch that probably pays our whole salary bill per week, so we understand how difficult that makes the tie for us.”

Stevenage are enjoying a fine league campaign so far, sitting second in League Two and go into the FA Cup clash following a 3-0 win against current league leaders Leyton Orient last Saturday.

Evans’ side looked to be heading out of the FA Cup having trailed 1-0 to Unai Emery’s Villa for much of the game before an 85th minute red card for Leander Dendoncker opened the door for two late Stevenage goals.

“The last 20 to 30 seconds, when the fourth official is down the mic telling the referee it’s time to go, time to blow and it’s time up, the first thing I thought of is we’re just about to beat these guys and that manager in the last 12 months has beaten Bayern Munich and he’s beaten Juventus, both in cup ties,” Evans explained.

“And here was little Stevenage beating Aston Villa at Villa Park. It’s just something that lives with you forever and that was my conversation with the players in the dressing room when all the celebrations and that came to being at a calm level.

“I said they’ll have memories today that they’ll tell their grand-sons and grand-daughters about. They’ll speak about it because it’s one of the FA Cup’s biggest ever upsets.

“I’d love my players to be able to play against the boys they see on the television every weekend. That’s what you want to be able to say.

“You want your boys to challenge themselves. The last game at Villa Park, (Phillipe) Coutinho was playing. Somebody messaged the boys saying five years ago that week he had just joined Barcelona for £145m. God knows what his wages were.”

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But Evans believes a Stoke side managed by Alex Neil, who he knows well and studied for his UEFA Pro Licence with, will be an even tougher test than Villa.

“I just reckon it becomes much tougher. I think the Stoke City boys will think if they’ve won at Villa, they must be okay,” he continued.

“If it was the other way, I don’t think Aston Villa would have been on their guard as much as Stoke would be now if we’d beaten Stoke and played Villa.”

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