Steve Evans is all too aware that victory for Stevenage over Stoke City may require some form of divine intervention - but it wouldn't be the first time the almighty has lent a hand to the Scotsman's career.

As a young player who had just signed for Clyde, he had a training ground bust-up with the manager, and soon to be Scotland boss, Craig Brown.

He was sent home and told not to return unless he apologised.

But after missing the next session, Brown was paid a visit by a priest who came to plead the case for the now penitent Evans.

A meeting between manager and player smoothed the waters and there was a smile when Evans was reminded of the story.  

And as Boro head to the Potteries on Sunday for an FA Cup fourth round clash, Evans admits he may call on the same power again.

The boss said: "I can remember looking to the sky when Dean Campbell scored [against Aston Villa in round three] and thinking ‘someone is having a little smile on us’. 

"But yeah, we need all the help we can get. We need Stoke City to have a slight off day, we need them to miss a couple of chances at key times in the match and then we just need we just hang in there and keep ourselves in a cup tie.  

"And if we can do that, then we can change things, change our style and the way we play.

"We'll surprise a few which is what we did at Villa Park.  

"I know how good the Stoke players are for the level they play at, they are very good, and that squad was put together to compete for a place in the Premier League. 

"And they've got a very gifted manager and coaching staff so that tells me how good they are and how big a challenge it is for us."

The win over Aston Villa in the last round could also work against Stevenage.

The Premier League side made eight changes that day but having seen Boro's performance, any element of surprise has gone and Evans expects Stoke manager Alex Neil to name his strongest side.

"I don’t think he’ll rest any," said the Boro gaffer. "Knowing Alex, he'll see [progress to] the fifth round of the FA Cup and he's a big-time manager. He's been in the Premier League. 

"He knows what it's like to be involved in managing coach against those giants if you like and I know when you're in the Championship, you want a taste of who you [could] play in in the Premier League. 

"Alex will be no different so I’d expect it to be a very similar team that they played last weekend when they won doing handstands [beat Reading 4-0]."

One of the plus points for Stevenage though is their form, they are now unbeaten in 11 League Two games, and the confidence that has spawned.

That culminated in a 3-0 win over Leyton Orient last time out to put them firmly in the title race.

That remains the goal for the team but it doesn't mean they are not ready to spring another shock.

Evans said: "When you get to this stage, the end of January and into February, every game from now until the end of the season is massive.

"The FA Cup is an absolute bonus for us. It's just a cherry on top of all that.  

"We understand, within the structure, we have to keep positivity around the place regardless what happens at Stoke on Sunday, 

"We’re not being defeatist when we say that because on a good day we can go through in the cup, absolutely. 

"But we need everything to go in our favour."