Stevenage stayed bottom of Sky Bet League One, and two points from safety, after a 1-1 home draw with Port Vale this afternoon (Saturday).

The Comet: Francois Zoko in action for StevenageFrancois Zoko in action for Stevenage (Image: Archant)

Boro substitute Peter Hartley nodded home a leveller on 61 minutes after Tom Pope had headed the visitors ahead a minute after the break.

Graham Westley made three changes to the side which lost 1-0 away to Coventry City in midweek with Chris Day back in goal in place of Steve Arnold, Darius Charles in for Jordan Burrow, who dropped to the bench, and Felipe Morais replacing the suspended Michael Doughty in midfield.

The three midweek loan signings, Conor Henderson from Hull City, Tom Flanagan from MK Dons and Blackpool’s Anderson Banvo, were all substitutes.

With Stevenage fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, the opening, and goalless, first period was largely a tentative one.

On the whole it did little to excite either set of supporters, until the closing minute.

Having already been booked for a foul on Tom Pope, defender Bira Dembele felled Billy Knott on 43 minutes and escaped with a final warning as Vale fans chanted “off, off, off.”

Chris Lines casually lifted the set-piece into the Boro box and Joe Davis headed over his side’s best chance of the opening period.

There was still time Boro to find the back of the net, although the effort was chalked off on the stroke of half-time.

Freeman’s deep-free kick was headed across goal by Dembele and Francois Zoko finished, however the flag was up.

At the break Hartley was introduced for the booked Dembele .

A disastrous start to the second period saw Vale take the lead.

Chris Birchall crossed from the right and Pope timed his run perfectly at the far post to meet the ball and head past Day.

Boro were level though just after the hour mark as substitute Hartley headed home a Freeman free-kick from the right.

The assist clearly lifted Freeman who then delivered another dangerous cross, which this time came to nothing before forcing a diving save from keeper Sam Johnson.

The winger was only denied a clear shot at goal in the area by a last ditch-tackle moments later.

With 10 minutes to go Westley brought on loanee Banvo and Simon Heslop for Morais and John Mousinho.

Soon after Hartley was booked for a foul on ex-Boro man Jennison Myrie-Williams who had just been brought on.

After finding no way through to get ahead, the game ticked into injury time and Boro had a last chance in the fourth and final minute of injury time.

Smith launched a free-kick from halfway into the box, but Lucas Akins fouled keeper Johnson and with it Boro’s hopes of a winner ended.

Stevenage: Day, Dembele (Hartley 45mins), Ashton, Morais (Banvo 79mins), Mousinho (Heslop 79mins), Charles, Akins, Zoko, Freeman, Smith, Obeng.

Subs: Arnold, Burrow, Flanagan, Henderson.

Port Vale: Johnson, Jones, Robertson, Loft, Tomlin (Dobbs 83mins), Pope, Davis, Lines, Duffy, Birchall (Taylor 79mins), Knott (Myrie-Williams 79mins).

Subs: Yates, Shuker, Griffith, Hugill.

Attendance: 2,912.