Stevenage saw another three points disappear from their grasp away to Bristol Rovers. 

Jamie Reid had fired Boro into a half-time lead but just as it was looking like they would close out a good away win, Chris Martin equalised with a lob from distance.

They weren't at their best but at the very least you felt they should have at least seen the game out against a Rovers side that were out of sorts on and off the pitch.

There were two changes from the side that drew with Port Vale, Kane Smith and Nathan Thompson coming out for Louis Thompson and Kane Hemmings.

The elder Thompson was on the bench as was Harrison Neal, Smith missing out altogether.

The changes brought a new-look formation for Boro, a 4-1-4-1 with Hemmings the lone striker.

And despite Reid's goal, there was a good argument to say it hadn't worked.

Rovers found plenty of space in the opening 15 minutes but their lack of confidence was clear for all to see.

The home fans were not happy with the recent form and that started to bubble to the surface when Aaron Collins opted not to pull the trigger following a low ball right across the area.

They could have scored when Taye Ashby-Hammond went walkabout and former Arlesey Town forward and Letchworth native, Jevani Brown, got goal-side of him.

Carl Piergianni though made a superb tackle to rob him of the ball.

The Boro skipper had the best chance for the visitors as he stooped and stretched to reach a deliciously lofted free-kick into the area by Jake Forster-Caskey.

He got to it and while it lacked power, it still needed Matt Cox to push it behind.

Hemmings also tested the keeper but it never looked like a goal would come.

That was until Jordan Roberts crossed into the middle where Hemmings, a Bristol defender and Cox went for the high ball.

They all collided but with the home fans baying for a foul, the referee waved play on and Reid reacted quickest to tuck the ball past the defender on the line.

The disharmony amongst the Gas Heads reappeared at half-time with a smattering of boos and manager Joey Barton felt changes were needed too, bringing on Harvey Vale and George Friend.

It almost had an instant impact as Vale got loose down the left and set up a goalmouth scramble.

Somewhere in the carnage, Terence Vancooten picked up a knock, and that and the new Rovers system had Boro scrambling in the early going.

It certainly lifted the mood briefly but two headers from Tristan Crama and one shot from Collins that all went over the top soon brought the frustration back.

It could have got even worse as after weathering that spell, Stevenage almost snatched a second.

Forster-Caskey lifted in another free-kick, this one from the left, and it was met again by Piergianni.

This time his header was wide of Cox but came back off the foot of the post.

Having been hit by one injury sub, Boro had another mere moments after a double switch, Forster-Caskey forced to come off and bringing Ben Thompson on.

It was during a spell when Boro had nullified the threats but it left them without the opportunity to make a final change.

The threat still seemed nullified with seven minutes to go when Martin picked up the ball in midfield.

But he let fly from distance with a lob that caught Ashby-Hammond out and nestled in the back of the net.

It almost sparked a revival but Boro learnt another lesson about putting games to bed in League One.

They should have done it and a point won't be an acceptable reward.

Match details

Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, James-Wildin, Butler, Piergianni, Forster-Caskey (B.Thompson 69), Freeman, Roberts, Vancooten (N.Thompson 48), Reid, L.Thompson (Burns 66), Hemmings (List 66).

Sub (not used): Hegyi, Pressley, Neal.

Goal: Reid 40

Booked: L.Thompson 33, Freeman 45+2,  James-Wildin 61, Burns 74


Bristol Rovers: Cox, Grant (Friend 46), Finley, Collins, Taylor, Martin, Brown, Evans, Bogarde (Vale 46), Crama, Hoole (Marquis 79).

Subs (not used): Hall, Gordon, Sinclair, Gibbons.

Goal: Martin 83

Booked: Finley 37, Evans 46, Collins 57, Taylor 88, Gibbons 90+2


HT: Bristol Rovers 0 Stevenage 1

Added time: 7

Referee: Matthew Donohue (Manchester)

Attendance: 7,143  (including 228 from Stevenage)