One penalty given and two not were the talking points as Stevenage suffered back-to-back home defeats for the first time in almost a year.

Josh Hawkes converted the one given with 16 minutes to go to hand Tranmere Rovers a 1-0 win at the Lamex Stadium.

But it was two shouts shortly after that weren't given that had Boro boss Steve Evans hopping mad.

The first was for a tackle on Kane Smith while the second was for handball.

Both were good shouts but ultimately they masked a lacklustre performance for three-quarters of the game by the home side, stretching their run of games without a win to five.

Evans had said he had learned plenty of lessons from the 2-0 loss at Stockport County one week earlier and to that end he made two changes for this one.

Max Clark, Jake Reeves were the men to come in with Jake Forster-Caskey and Josh Reid the ones to step aside.

The Coventry loanee was out altogether, with Dean Campbell back on the bench, while both Luther James-Wildin and Terence Vancooten remain sidelined with injury.

As the teams headed off at half-time, Paul Raynor stopped behind to have a word with the referee about the time-wasting of Rovers keeper Joe Murphy.

He had a point but the more pressing matter surely would have been to diagnose why Stevenage had been so shot-shy.

They had dominated possession, dominated territory and won numerous free-kicks and corners.

By half-time, they had taken four shots and not one had threatened Murphy.

Most of Stevenage's good play came down the right with Kane Smith prominent but crosses were often just away from their intended recipients.

When Smith won the ball back deep inside the Rovers half, it handed Norris a clear sight of goal.

He hooked it well wide though.

Another decent ball in from Dan Sweeney was glanced wide by a diving Danny Rose.

Too often though the delivery was ponderous, predictable and simply gobbled up by the away defence.

The half-time break would have brought news of Carlisle's 4-0 lead at Crawley and the fact they were down to third for the first time in a long time.

That should have hammered home the need for much more urgency.

And there was more of it in the opening 15 minutes but that was more because of Tranmere coming out of their shell  little bit.

A quick counter ended with Alex Gilbey's low shot kicked away by Murphy and moments later the keeper watched a Max Clark effort whistle over the top from distance.

But by the hour Evans emerged from the dug-out, the first sight of the Boro boss in the afternoon, and within six minutes there had been four changes.

Almost immediately there was a chance for Reeves, Smith again the architect with a tackle inside the Rovers half setting the move in motion.

But then it all unravelled as one of the new faces, Daryl Horgan, dived in from behind on Lee O'connor as the Tranmere man drove into the box.

That lit a bit of a fire under the Boro players but the penalty shouts that followed suddenly raised the temperature to boiling point.

There was pressure from the home side but chances on the break at the other end, Paul Lewis making a hash of a counter when through on a two-on-one.

One final chance for Boro flashed across the face of goal with Norris sliding in.

He missed it and Boro missed the chance to bounce back.


Stevenage: Savin, Clark, Reeves (Forster-Caskey 83), Piergianni, Sweeney, Norris, Roberts (Horgan 66), Smith, Gilbey (Taylor 66), Bostwick (Campbell 66), Rose (Jamie Reid 66).

Subs (not used): Przybek, March.

Booked: Reeves 79


Tranmere Rovers:Murphy, Dacres-Cogley, Bristow, O'Connor, Davies, Hawkes (Jameson 90+7), Turnbull, Lewis, Hendry, Saunders, Turner-Cooke (Merrie 67).

Subs (not used): Hewelt, Chalmers, Mumbongo, Burton, Fisher.

Goal: Hawkes (pen) 77

Booked: Hendry 26, Hawkes 58, Dacres-Cogley 78


HT: Stevenage 0 Tranmere Rovers 0

Referee: Martin Woods (Wigan)

Attendance: 3,675 (including 160 from Tranmere)