Steve Evans took time to pay tribute to the work done by Andy Crosby at Port Vale - before he takes his Stevenage side to the Potteries for the second time this season.

Crosby was relieved of his duties on Monday but in each of the three games played against Boro so far, home games in both league and FA Cup, as well as the FA Cup replay at Vale Park, Evans admitted that the League One strugglers were the better side.

The Boro boss said: "First and foremost, Andy Crosby did a brilliant job.

"When Darrell Clarke had to take some time off while they were trying to get promoted, [Vale owner Carol Shanahan] and her family and Dave Flitcroft gave Andy a wonderful opportunity. 

"And he didn't just grab it with two hands, he grabbed it with eight hands.  

"He helped get them over the line and they gave him superb backing and when we went up there in December for the cup game, I sat with Carol and had a coffee for about 40 minutes before the game. 

"We were chatting generally and they were so supportive, so hungry for success. 

"But like everyone, I heard Andy Cosby a couple of weeks ago talking about some big decisions that went against him and two or three weeks later, he loses his job. 

"And that's my point about managers lose jobs but referees get coaching opportunity. 

"And that's why we need an improvement on that side of the game to help managers stay in jobs and earn a living for their families. 

"But we’ve played them three times this season and we've been second best on them all. 

"We know we need to be a lot better on Saturday because they still have the same players." 

Like Stevenage, Port Vale also played on Tuesday night and lost 1-0 at home, their game against Leyton Orient.

And Evans knows that regardless of the situation with the manager, Boro need to be at their very best.

He said: "The only thing I learned is that perhaps Carol needs to spend a few quid on the pitch. 

No, in all seriousness, I saw the Burton pitch too, that is normally a carpet but it was off with the weather and the rain. 

"I also spoke to Neil Harris at Cambridge and he said their pitch went from a bowling green to a ploughed field in 10 minutes. 

"What did I learn? I learned that we need to be much better to add a point or three. 

"We've got massive respect for what they're about." 

And another thing to take account is the size of the Vale Park surface.

Evans added: "If you remember, I was upstairs for the cup tie and you do realise how wide the pitch is.

"I wasn't sure I’d be able to see the far side even with glasses. 

"They should have perhaps have got something from the game with Leyton Orient, who are going great guns under Richie Wellens. 

"They are the form team in the league and they got in front and put the blockers on them.  

"It’s a big pitch and it's going to take lots of legs, lots of energy and that's why Port Vale have been so successful at home against the best. 

"Two weeks ago, Portsmouth get a penalty two minutes from time but up to then, Port Vale were the better team. 

"So that pitch and those players, don't forget they've got good players, those players create problems for a lot of teams."