On a night of twists and turns that saw Stevenage advance in the FA Cup at Port Vale, perhaps the biggest surprise was Steve Evans revealing he kept the hairdryer holstered at half-time.

Boro were trailing 1-0 at the time after being outplayed for long periods of the first-half.

It got worse when they conceded a second 10 minutes into the second half but Harvey White and Kane Hemmings forced extra-time, the latter scoring with mere seconds of the six added minutes to go.

Vale went back in front in the additional 30 minutes but Nathan Thompson levelled on 119 minutes and Boro went on to win the shoot-out 4-3 with Taye Ashby-Hammond making two saves.

But it was a double sub at the break and the three remaining changes in the second period that shifted the momentum in Boro's favour, all stemming from a calm and rational half-time chat.

Evans said: "It’s the biggest pitch in the league and they adapt to it very well. They made it so they had one and ones all over the pitch and that suits the way they play. 

"The only pleasing thing for me was we got to half-time still in the cup tie. 

"So we went into the dressing room and as a staff, we were calm. People probably think that we were pulling the ceiling lights down. We weren’t. 

"We were calm and we sat in a separate area and discussed the different options we could make and we made those changes. 

"We had a plan to introduce the subs early and we had players going to the wire for us."

Evans was serving the first of a two-match touchline ban so took up station high in the main stand at Vale Park.

It offered him a different view to usual which also played its part.

He said: "When you sit up in there, and I’ve never hidden this, you learn more about your team.

"We were 2-0 down and getting outplayed and I learned a lot. 

"Then you sit back and look strategically. You think ‘how can I affect this? How can I get us back in the cup tie’? Not win the cup tie but just get us back in it. 

"We went very high with [Luther James-Wildin] and Butler and I thought Dan was as good as he has been all season and suddenly he was linking with Harvey."

White was the fifth of the changes to come on and his goal on 81 minutes, a 25-yard effort that was rifled high into the net, was the catalyst for the comeback.

His contribution brought praise from the gaffer who sees it as another step on his learning curve.

Evans said: "When Harvey got us the goal, we were totally dominant and we think there is one winner in extra-time. 

"We’ve had two or three or three good chances, we’ve put balls across the box and we’ve missed the target. 

"We’ve played some outstanding football for the half hour before the end of the 90 and all through extra-time. 

"When they go 3-2 in front because young Harvey, who I thought was outstanding for us when he came on, he didn’t win a 50-50 in the middle of the park and they broke off that and scored. 

"He knew right away when I spoke to him there, he’s so honest, and first and foremost he is a terrific kid. 

"But we have said to him that a 15-minute good performance off the bench does not get you in the starting side. 

You have to continually do it in training but we had big decisions to make [before kick-off and during the game]. 

"We wanted experience and perhaps young Harrison was the only exception to that. 

"Suddenly we bring Louis and Nathan Thompson on and you’ve suddenly got that experience.

"We had the energy of young Harvey but I do think that Kane Hemmings was exceptional. 

"He not only gets the goal but he led the line and him and Reid being a handful. 

"But the character that this group has got, it’s not one or two, it’s the full group, to have that type of character and score again and take it penalties [was great]. 

"For the first 60 minutes we didn’t play like we wanted to be in the FA Cup, but for the rest of it we did. 

"The substitutes made a big difference, they re-energized the rest of the group."