Stevenage "didn't perform" according to manager Steve Evans but a late, late victory over Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup and a starring cameo performance from Kane Hemmings left him delighted.

The striker arrived from Rovers on deadline day in a free transfer and scored Boro's third on 81 minutes, after earlier strikes from Jordan Roberts and Jamie Reid.

That left it 3-2 but an equaliser from Kieron Morris in stoppage time threatened to send Boro to Wirral for an unwanted replay.

That was until a strong run and shot from Hemmings was only parried by Luke McGee, with Reid turning in the winner on a remarkable, if not always exciting, 4-3 win.

Evans said: "We've not performed today apart from certain little periods in the game. 

"We controlled lots of aspects in the game but credit to Tranmere. It’s the FA Cup, never say die, and I thought Nigel [Adkins] got a real tune out of his boys. 

"But we're the warriors in the EFL and we never stopped going, the boys showed great character.

"The FA Cup is a magical competition but this was simply about getting through.

"For a neutral, the cup tie is fantastic, but we’ll never forget that we are Stevenage and we’ve beaten Tranmere Rovers, a club who are way below the level they should be."

The poor performance was feared by the boss after a lacklustre showing in training on Friday.

But Hemmings, and the other Boro subs were the reason for the change in impetus.

Evans said: "We saw it in training yesterday. Normally we are really bright on a Friday, we were last Friday before Derby but the difference [between the two] was black and white. 

"We were on the front foot against Derby, we weren’t here. 

"We got the great start, we get the goal and then it was scrappy until it came to life. 

"I’m really played for Kane Hemmings. He wasn’t considered good enough for Tranmere but I've always liked him.  

"It's a fantastic first goal and a brilliant run and strike for Jamie Reid to get on the end of and win it. 

"We were tempted to start him but I’ve got absolutely no sympathy for players wanting to play against former clubs and all that nonsense. 

"So we didn’t but my God, when we brought him onto the pitch, he looked like the Kane Hemmings who played for me before. 

"He looked electric in everything he did."


Hemmings had arrived on 77 minutes in a triple switch, and there was praise too for Ben Thompson and Harvey White.

The Boro boss said: "I was really pleased to see Ben Thompson play such a big part when he come on, I thought he was terrific, more like the Ben Thompson we signed. 


"I was really pleased to see Harvey White. In the last 10 days of training, he has become the Harvey White we saw at Spurs. 

"We’ve been encouraging him and my final words before I came out of the dressing room were about Harvey. 

"I've probably been nearer the starting XI than he has for a number of weeks but in reality, and the players all applauded my comments, because they know how good he’s been. 

"He was in contention to start but we thought we'd go with more tried and tested players. 

"He came on and made a difference but the big game changer for me was Kane Hemmings. 

"He gave us that physical presence and he’s got a goal, he's made another and he’s led the line and I’m delighted."