Steve Evans has hailed an "unbelievable" 2023 for Stevenage but has now turned his sights on opening 2024 in great style.

Boro head to League One leaders Portsmouth on New Year's Day sitting fifth in the table.

And the boss reflected on what a whirlwind few months it has been to get to this stage.

He said: "There'll be 20,000 and I think the Pompey ends have sold out. They probably could have sold it three times. 

"They're in outstanding form under John [Mousinho]. They should have won at Bristol Rovers, I saw the whole re-run on Friday morning as I tuned my mind to Monday. 

"But what an occasion [it will be]. We were getting relegated to the National League a little over 18 months ago and here we are, we're going to Fratton Park to compete with the league leaders in a top-end League One game.

"It’s just fantastic.  

"We've had an unbelievable 2023. It's probably unprecedented throughout the EFL for what the boys have achieved. 

"And if we're standing here a year today and we're having the same success in 2024, wow, we'll be playing in the Championship.  

"That’s the degree of success. 

"It's a new year and an opportunity to go to the league leaders and produce a good performance." 

READ MORE: Steve Evans reveals conversations behind decision to postpone Stevenage vs Cambridge United

They should arrive in Portsmouth slightly fresher than their hosts. While Pompey could only draw 0-0 away to Exeter City, Stevenage were left kicking their heels after electricity problems forced their game at home to Cambridge United to be postponed prior to kick-off.

Evans was always planning to bring in fresher players though.

"We would have been fresh anyway," he said. "The intention is to change certain key areas. 

"We'll prepare properly, we will train now [on Friday after the Cambridge decision], the boys will rest on Saturday and then we'll train on Sunday and then travel to the south coast. 

"Once again, thank you to our chairman and the board because it's never easy to try and find a hotel that doesn’t have a party on New Year’s Eve but we've been able to find one at a great personal cost to our chairman.  

"So we're grateful to Phil Wallace." 

The boss had sprung a surprise an hour before the scheduled kick-off against Cambridge United by naming the exact same 18 that had defeated Northampton Town on Boxing Day.

And he was left frustrated at not playing against Cambridge, even if he totally understood and agreed with the decision.

He said: "[The four on the management team] all met on Friday morning to discuss the team and there were some big decisions over whether we changed it, whether we change the shape, whether we change the personnel. 

"We did in fact change the shape, that would have changed, but the personnel stayed the same. 

"That just allows other people to come into contention now for [Portsmouth]. 

"Really, we’re just disappointed as we're in a great run of form. We lost at Barnsley, probably the unluckiest team in the EFL in the whole of this year to lose that game but we did. 

"But we had a fantastic performance against Northampton here [on Boxing Day]. 

"So we've lost the [chance to play against Cambridge] but in February or March or whenever it comes around, we'll be back here and it will be another great game under the lights at the Lamex.

"I've just spoken to Neil Harris and it’s unprecedented for Neil and for myself to a large degree, but everything is sent to test you in this game.  

"I think Neil's gone home with a bounce in his step, he’s gone home bouncing because this game is off. 

"But I can understand that. He's here with no strikers, he’s here with a makeshift team and they'll be a different proposition when they bounce into the Lamex [later in the season] because he is a good manager."