Tottenham FA Cup tie provides stage for Stevenage to fight critics

The purists have never been big fans of Stevenage.

Critics argue that their back-to-back promotions have been built on power, fitness and attritional football.

Boro see it differently, and Sunday's FA Cup fifth round tie against Tottenham would be the perfect stage on which to prove those cynics wrong.

"Character and camaraderie have been paramount in the press," Boro manager Gary Smith told BBC Three Counties Radio.

"But there's a lot more quality in this group than people have seen."

Stevenage's approach under previous boss Graham Westley, who left to join Preston in January, was undoubtedly successful, taking them from the Blue Square Bet Premier to the third tier within two years.

And Smith, a former Major League Soccer Cup winner while manager of Colorado Rapids, looks to have picked up where his predecessor left off, maintaining a League One play-off position and guiding Boro past Notts County to a tie with Harry Redknapp's Premier League aristocrats.

"We have some very good players in there," argues Smith.

"You don't get to this stage of the season, in this sort of position, without quality individuals.

"It's not just going to be about blood and thunder and energy."

The Hertfordshire club are no strangers to an FA Cup upset. They stunned Premier League Newcastle United in last season's third round and Smith has his sights set on another famous scalp.

"We're going to need some fortune," he said. "But we are capable of causing an upset at home. I do believe that.

"A victory would be unbelievable. There would be a tremendous amount of excitement around the place.

"I would hope in a one-off game we'll have every chance of really pushing Tottenham to their limits.

"And who knows? The magic of the Cup sometimes sprinkles a little bit of that pixie dust on the underdogs and hopefully it will be us on this occasion."

And while Boro are living the FA Cup dream, Smith is also talking up the very real possibility of a third successive promotion.

"We really hope we can push on and do something incredibly special this year," he said.

"I know there's been back-to-back promotions, but this year, if we can maintain the charge we're on and put some of the teams above us under pressure, who knows what can happen?"

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