Stevenage saw their League One play-offs come to an end with a hugely frustrating defeat at home to Burton Albion.

Manager Steve Evans had said the final three matches of the season were like three cup finals but they exited the competition with a 2-1 loss. 

Mark Helm scored a fortuitous goal at the end of the first half and then Dan Butler was sent off for an off the ball incident just past the hour.

Tom Hamer sealed it with a second and although Kane Hemmings grabbed a consolation, it was too little too late.

There was probably a temptation from the boss to name the same team that had beaten Barnsley on Tuesday evening, but in the end personal reasons meant Dan Sweeney was missing, Nathan Thompson coming in instead with Harvey White filling the gap on the bench.

They certainly started on the front foot but without testing Max Crocombe in the Burton gold, and that was a pattern that continued throughout the half.

The only attempt was a horribly miscued volley by Jamie Reid that screwed away for a throw-in in front of the East Terrace.

Burton weren't doing much of anything either, Rekeem Harper slicing their one chance wide, but they weren't really that bothered about going forward, regularly playing with all 11 behind the ball.

And while Stevenage had all the possession, it was often slow and ponderous and always easily dealt with by the away defence.

It was still a surprise though when Albion went in front in the first minute of stoppage time, although it was a fluke.

A corner from the left was slung in and after it was missed at the front post, it hit a body and rolled into the corner.

Helm was the scorer although he knew absolutely nothing about it, almost with his back to the ball.

Both sides had been forced into changes in the first half but Evans made another two at the break, taking off the noticeably shattered Aaron Pressley and Kane Smith and replacing them with Nick Freeman and Ben Thompson.

And the first 10 minutes had almost total pressure from the hosts.

It began with Reid hitting a low shot from the right of the area that the keeper beat away with his legs, and he followed that up by pushing a Harvey Shot over the bar.

Elliott List did lob the ball over him but somehow Toto Nsiala and the lack of a touch from a yellow shirt meant the ball didn't cross the line.

It ended with a superb save from Crocombe, flying to his right to push an Elliott List rocket away.

However, as Stevenage tried to find that way back into the game, there afternoon and season unravelled.

MacGillivray was looking to take a quick throw to Butler but the full-back was prevented from getting away by Helm grabbing hold of him.

The full-back's frustration and disappointment at that saw him try to shrug the Burton man off, but the overly aggressive way he did it was brought to the referee's attention by the fourth official and linesman.

It led to a red for Butler and a yellow for Helm.

Stevenage did try to get something but Burton killed the game off with another goal dripping in fortune.

Ben Thompson had given the ball away and then committed a foul.

The free-kick was slid in to Sam Hughes and his turn and shot was another that shot off in an unintended direction.

Unfortunately that was to Hamer and he shot past MacGillivray with 14 minutes remaining.

Hemmings pulled one back two minutes from time, tapping in as the ball ran loose in front of goal.

It raised hopes but they were never solid ones and the final whistle brought the curtain down on a disappointing end.

Match details

Stevenage: MacGillivray, Butler, N.Thompson (Roberts 73), Piergianni, List (Hemmings 67), Smith (Freeman 46), Vancooten, Burns (White 45), Reid, Pressley (B.Thompson 46), L.Thompson.

Sub (not used): Mitchell, Guinness-Walker.

Goals: Hemmings 88

Booked: B.Thompson 75, Hemmings 90+4

Sent-off: Butler 61


Burton Albion: Crocombe, Brayford (Seddon 29), Oshilaja, Hughes, Powell, Harper, Bennett (Hugill 46), Moon, Helm, Hamer, Nsiala.

Subs (not used): Blackman, Kamwa, Carayol, Gilligan, Hackford.

Goals: Helm 45+1, Hamer 76

Booked: Oshilaja 21, Helm 61, Hamer 71


HT: Stevenage 0 Burton Albion 1

Added time: 12

Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire)

Attendance: 4,040 (including 204 from Burton)