Playing the likes of Reading and Portsmouth is exactly the rewards Stevenage wanted when they got promotion to League One according to manager Steve Evans.

Boro travelled to the Madejski Stadium last week, losing for the first time this season to the Royals, 2-0, and will welcome Pompey to the Lamex Stadium on Saturday.

And the boss is excited to be coming up against one of the division's leading lights.

"We're playing against, in my opinion, an outstanding side, full of talented players," said Evans.

"We watched them on Tuesday. Alex Revell watched them against Fulham in the EFL Trophy and they made 11 changes. 

"They still had real talent on the pitch and real talent on the bench. 

"They're very fortunate they can do that and they'll come with a big support. 

"From that point of view, it's a real tough one for us but it’s another big reason why we got promoted.

"It's another great benchmark and it is another brilliant game for our supporters. 

"Three years ago our supporters were thinking of playing the likes of Dover Athletic and Bromley, and that's no disrespect to those teams, Bromley could be in the Football League soon, but to play Reading and Portsmouth in the in the space of a week, that's the reason we fought so hard to win promotion. 

"In most games this season, we’ll be the underdogs by a long way from a neutral perspective, but we were 66-1 to win promotion last year so we'll keep trying to defy the odds." 

That promotion and the rewards are down to the players believes Evans but they are now getting into the thick of what it means to be a League One side. 

Evans said: "The indications are that match would be sold out. It should be sold out anyway if I'm being honest, playing [a club like] Portsmouth and then after our success of last season and the start the boys have made. 

"It's all credit to the dressing room. I’m here to stand in front of them when things are not so right but they are there to stand proudly when things are right because they have worked so hard for it. 

"There's not a player in the dressing room that we wouldn’t have bought here in the summer or the year before and that's why we fought so hard.  

"And the chairman has done some wonderful business. We extended contracts and things for different ones. 

"The tests are the tests are now coming on to us. Reading was a huge test last week and we failed that test, that's the reality of it. 

"We have Portsmouth, then we have Exeter, and then we have Leyton Orient, which is always tough against a Richie Wellens team."