Strength of character in Stevenage squad no shock to Steve Evans

Stevenage have shown bundles of character and togetherness already this season.

Stevenage have shown bundles of character and togetherness already this season. - Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY/TGS PHOTO

Steve Evans had no doubts about the mental fortitude of his Stevenage squad after defeat to Bradford City in their last league game - and says the response in the week has been superb.

The 3-0 loss at Valley Parade was not their best performance of the campaign but they came out fighting to win 3-0 in the Papa John's Trophy against Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday.

And the boss is ready to unleash that refreshed confidence against Harrogate Town on Saturday at the Lamex.

Evans said: "We knew in the dressing room [at Bradford]. Players walked in and they knew they hadn’t performed individually and that brings a collective performance. 

"Maybe we didn’t get the team and system right for that particular game so we’re looking in-house as a manager and staff. 

"The coach was really quiet and there was an air of eeriness coming back. 

"But as I told the boys on Monday, we lost a league game, lets not get carried away because we have been fantastic. 

"And you could see the reaction. 

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"Training on Monday was probably the brightest it has been and the performance on Tuesday by some of the individuals, they all came in with a point to prove and reacting to my challenge to them which was ‘let the performance pick the shirts, not you sat in my office telling me you are a good player’. 

"Demonstrate it in training and more importantly, demonstrate it in games. 

"They did that."

There is a bond that has been forged between the squad, a never-say-die commitment, something Evans demands.

But that character did not shock the boss after forming the cornerstone of his summer recruitment. 

He said: "What we did as part of our recruitment plan, we spent a lot of time looking at players away from the pitch. 

"Where they mentally strong when they got left out? Did they bounce back? Have they got the right demeanour about them? 

"That’s why we spent so much time doing our homework on the individuals we have brought together 

"We’ve not got one weak character in the group. Everyone believes they are number one and should be first choice but they believe that when they are left out, they are left out for the reason that we’re bringing fresh players in."