An error from goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond gifted Exeter City victory in League One at St James Park - and left Stevenage staring at another season in the third tier.

Boro needed to win their remaining five games to keep the pressure on the sides around them in the play-off chase.

However, a Reece Cole effort seven minutes before half-time was enough for the Grecians to win 1-0, and with Oxford United winning and Lincoln City drawing, they are now six points adrift of the top six with four games to go.

After a cagey opening, it was Boro that created the first chance with Alex MacDonald finding himself with only Viljami Sinisalo to beat, but Exeter’s Finnish goalkeeper was equal to a shot that was straight at him.

Exeter responded with Luke Harris sliding in at the near post to poke a Dion Rankine cross at Ashby-Hammond, while Reece Cole was off target with a curling shot from 20 yards out.

However, the deadlock was broken in the 39th minute when – for the third time in the game – Sonny Cox charged down a clearance by Ashby-Hammond and Cole cleverly guided the ball into an empty net from 25 yards for his seventh goal of the season.

Former Grecian Jamie Reid almost equalised at the start of the second half, but Sinisalo made a brilliant double save, while Rankine smashed a good chance into the side netting from an acute angle for Exeter.

Reid was off target with a glancing header as Stevenage pushed for an equalising goal, but other than a cross that flashed across the face of goal, they rarely threatened Sinisalo in the Exeter goal.

And the visitors finished with both Luther Wildin and MacDonald off injured, as well as a booking to kit man Keith Bell.

Boro host Barnsley on Tuesday night.