The record books say Crawley Town will tackle the first play-off game of their EFL history when they take on MK Dons.

In reality, they experienced what felt very much like a play-off about a year ago – to stay in League Two.

That late season trip to Hartlepool was effectively a play-off to avoid relegation and they came through it with a 2-0 win.

What can happen after an escape from the drop is that, amid the feelings of relief, the underlying problems remain.

The reprieved team then struggle again, or even go down, a year later.

There were plenty of doubters about the way Lindsey, who had been appointed midway through the relegation battle, went about turning the near miss into a springboard.

The result so far has been a place in the real play-offs after a seventh place finish.

The end result? Well, who knows? But Crawley have a new feel about them.

Lindsey said: “It’s night and day. A lot has changed and it had to, in my opinion.

“There were a lot of things at this club which were not right, not professional enough, certainly in the playing squad.

“It took me 28 days before everybody turned up on time.

“There were a lot of loose professionals.

“As a manager I had to put that straight and put players in line.

“Some of those players had to go.

“Then we had to bring in, in my opinion, better people, better staff, better players in terms of their attitude and their professionalism.

“We have raised the standards of how I want to people to work.

“We work extremely hard.

“We have got some unbelievable staff, some unbelievable human beings.

“You can only be successful if you have got the right people to do it.

“There was a lot of clearing out, a lot of standards to set for that to happen and I can see now it is a real difference to when I first came in, for sure.”

It feels strange now that there should have been such negativity over a club making big changes to a squad who almost went down – but that was the case.

Lindsey said: “A lot of people would have questioned why we have gone from these big-name players and experienced players and we have signed kind of nobodies, no disrespect.

“They were players from non-league, people they hadn’t heard of.

“There were a lot of questions being asked about what was going on there.

“But we quietly went about our business, knowing what we were doing.

“I felt it needed a clear-out, I felt it needed freshness.

“I think it needed newness in terms of young players who had not played at the level.

“I backed myself as a coach, I backed my staff as coaches in order for us to polish them.

“To finish in seventh place is definitely an achievement from last year but the next hurdle is to go through to Wembley and then the next hurdle after that is to win it.

“So it is one stage at a time.”

Crawley have a more patient passing style this season and Lindsey says fans like the way the team play.

They appear to have enjoyed life under the radar and they will be outsiders again in the play-offs.

Lindsey said: “I always feel like an underdog every Saturday.

“I think that is what we are.

“At the start of the season we were backed as favourites to go do down but it doesn’t mean anything to me.

“I know how hard we work and I know the attitude of the players behind the dressing room door and within those four walls as to what we can achieve.

“That doesn’t necessarily have to spill out to the public or to anybody else.

“We know what we are capable of.

“But we always feel like the underdogs. We are kind of used to that.”