There were frustrations at both ends of the pitch for Stevenage manager Steve Evans as their play-off hopes were pushed further away by defeat at Exeter City.

An error by goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond, who saw his clearance charged down by Exeter striker Sonny Cox and finished off by Reece Cole, gave the home side a 1-0 win and leaves Boro six points adrift of the top six with four games remaining.

And the boss believes a lack of goals has crippled their position, with the mistake by the keeper simply just salt in the wound.

The Comet: A Taye Ashby-Hammond clearance was charged down for the goal. Picture: TGS PHOTOA Taye Ashby-Hammond clearance was charged down for the goal. Picture: TGS PHOTO (Image: TGS Photo)

Evans said: "We spoke long and hard to the players about being in the game, making it like a cup tie for 70 minutes, but if you make a huge error, you are going to concede.

"Ashby-Hammond got away with it twice for me, them closing him down, doesn't take heed off it, and it is something he has taken off his own back to do.

"It's disappointing but you look at the results and it is going to be tough for us.

"We've not scored [in five of the last seven games] and it carried on.

"When you see the quality of the chance [Alex MacDonald] has missed and [Jamie] Reid has got a simple header, to me they are simple chances for League One players.

"And when we don't take them, you wonder where we are going to get a goal from.

"Apart from a counter attack, we've laid siege to the their box in the second half but we lacked a real quality in that front part of the pitch,

"It's cost us, not just today, but for the last few weeks.

"They've played a lot of football and maybe they've had it all taken out of them, and we've exceeded all expectations in being where we are.

"But we had a real opportunity to grab this in the last four weeks and we've not done it.

"Football is football and if we beat Barnsley [on Tuesday], who knows? But you're almost grabbing at a little straw."

And while he won't throw in the towel until the maths says otherwise, there was the hint of acceptance that this won't be their year.

"Of course we still believe," said the Boro boss. "Football is there to surprise you but we can only focus [on our next game].

"We need to score to goals to win games though to stay in the race.

"There's probably less pressure on us and so we'll freshen it as best as we can and see what we can achieve."

Stevenage will have to contend with two injuries, Luther Wildin and MacDonald both exiting the game with knocks, and they also picked up five bookings, including one to kit man Keith Bell.

Evans explained his take on that moment.

He said: "I don't know if you saw it but Nesta Guinness-Walker gets smashed off the ball by an elbow.

"It's quite simply a red card but none of the officials saw it and I've got to admit, neither did I.

"We did see the replay and Keith got a yellow card for showing me a replay of it.

"When you go to Derby and Bolton and Barnsley, they've all got screens on their bench, but it is just a lack of direction from the EFL of what you can and cannot do.

"It's a first isn't it? The kit man gets a booking for looking at it on his phone but it is what it is."