DES Buckingham says he was looking forward to a touchline battle with Steve Evans, prior to the former Stevenage boss quitting just two days before the clash with Oxford United.

Evans left Stevenage for Rotherham United yesterday afternoon, to join a Millers side bottom of Sky Bet Championship, and already relegated.

The South Yorkshire side parted company with previous head coach Leam Richardson just hours before announcing Evans as his successor.

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Evans has a well-reported reputation for being a lively manager on the touchline, and U’s head coach Buckingham was relishing a first meeting against him.

Buckingham said: “It’s an interesting one, especially at this time of year. I’ve never shared the sideline with Steve Evans, so I was kind of looking forward to that. He’s another manager to challenge and work against.

“You don’t know the approach that they’ll take. Some may enjoy that freedom they get, but with others, he may have been the one driving them to get the performances that they’ve got.

“You could get a mixed bag, and you could get one or the other. The most important thing is that we know they’re a very good team, and it’s making sure we set up ourselves the way we want to play the game that we would look like.”

Evans guided Stevenage to promotion from League Two last season, and left the club after a play-off push this campaign fizzled out. The side sit ninth in League One, and can still make the top six, but require results to go in their favour and a healthy goal difference swing.

Witney Gazette:

Stevenage have built a reputation for being a well-drilled, physical side, with their play-off challenge leading Evans to be nominated for the League One manager of the season award, an accolade which was won by former United captain John Mousinho.

Buckingham said of Stevenage: “Regardless of who the manager was or now is, they’ve got a way that they do things, and they’ve been very effective, and they’ve shown that consistently against all the teams in this division.

“We’re still expecting as tough a challenge coming on Friday night, than we would’ve had with Steve Evans.”

Asked about the potential physical battle that awaits, Buckingham responded: “Les Taylor, the old academy manager here, used to say to the kids in the academy that you can never guarantee performance, but you can always guarantee hard work.

“That underpins everything we do. The expectations are there with hard work, in terms of how we press, how we set up, how quickly we recover.

“That has to be there, and if that isn’t there, you can’t talk about the football we want to play.

“The players are aware of that, and have worked extremely hard over the last couple of months, and now the finishing line is in sight, it’s making sure we continue to do that against what will be a very tough Stevenage side.”