Stevenage's first away trip since Boxing Day shows their is still plenty to do despite a better sequence of results.

They had arrived at Exeter City with just one defeat in their last eight League Two games but returned to Hertfordshire with a 3-1 loss, and not many positives.

They looked lacking in a spark both on and off the pitch as the hosts strolled to the success, even if a late goal from Elliot List provided some hope.

Alex Revell didn't travel with the rest of the squad after "feeling unwell". He did test negative for COVID-19 but the general consensus was he was taking extra precautions to protect the staff at the club and his family.

It meant Dean Wilkins and Mark Sampson had responsibility for the game and by half-time their job hadn't got any easier.

Sampson had been spotted on the phone after 18 minutes, the likelihood being the boss watching from home was giving instructions.

They were behind by that point too and as good as the strike was, and it was hit perfectly by Archie Collins, from a Boro point of view it was a horrific goal to receive.

The ball was played into the skipper just inside the visitors' half and he was allowed to advance 20 years unimpeded, the defence backing off and then backing off a bit more.

Collins looked up and thumped it from the edge of the D, off the underside of the bar to the left of the diving Jamie Cumming and in.

The strange thing was it was the only real shot the home side but they were in total control, passing it through the thirds with complete ease in a patient but probing manner.

Had they got out of first gear, they could have wrapped things up before the break.

Stevenage meanwhile struggled to find any fluency, with passes too often going away from their intended receiver or played directly out of play.

They did manage three shots but none of them were much of a worry to the Grecians.

Luke Norris had his early effort half-blocked, making it easy for Jonny Maxted to gather. The keeper was unbothered by an Arthur Read shot the was sliced high and wide but he did have to get down low to make a routine save from Luther James-Wildin.

The management opted to make a like-for-like change at half-time, bringing on Matty Stevens for Danny Newton and the sub made an instant difference, adding a willing runner to a physical presence.

He almost equalised seven minutes after his introduction after a long ball forward momentarily found him in front of two defenders.

He checked on the edge of the box and hit a left-footed shot that was destined for the net until Maxted flung himself to his right and pushed it round the post.

Bit while it was a much better 45 minutes for the away side, it seemed a struggle to get many more shots on goal.

There was a brief five minutes that brought a series of corners, but when Matt Jay half-volleyed a second from the edge of the area it was game over.

List gave them false hope with nine minutes to go when he guided shot through a crowd of players after a header at a corner was blocked, but that evaporated four minutes later through a third home goal, scored by Ryan Bowman.

There were chances for a fourth too as Exeter suddenly began to find way too much space in the box.

It never came though and Boro will need a quick reset for Tuesday's home game with Colchester United.

Stevenage: Cumming, James-Wildin (Hutton 64), Coker, Cuthbert, Carter, Newton (Stevens 46), Vancooten, Read, Smith (Marsh 73), Pett (List 73), Norris.

Subs (not used): Johnson, Vincelot, Prosser.

Goal: List 81

Exeter City: Maxted, Caprice (Key 64), Sweeney, Parkes, Hartridge (Page 76), Sparkes, Law, Collins, Atangana (Kite 90), Jay, Bowman (Seymour 90).

Subs (not used): Ward, McArdle, Fisher.

Goals: Collins 10, Jay 79, Bowman 85

HT: Exeter City 1 Stevenage 0

Referee: Matthew Donohue (Manchester)