A catalogue of calamity inside the first minute of the second half cost Stevenage a vital win at Hartlepool United.

Leading at the break thanks to a Danny Rose header, Boro twice fluffed their lines when presented with opportunities to clear, allowing relegation-threatened Pools to level through Nicky Featherstone and leave the game tied at 1-1.

The second period saw the home side have the better chances to take all three points too and amazingly the added time could, and probably should have seen both sides win it.

First Carl Piergianni had another moment of indecision and was robbed and somehow in front of goal, the striker missed the ball completely.

Amazingly there was still one more chance but Daryl Horgan saw his effort cleared off the line.

There will be disappointment at not winning for Boro, especially after leading and then with that final attempt, but on the flip side, they really could have lost.

Stevenage's injury jinx in the second half of the season had seemingly struck again on Good Friday as Terence Vancooten and Luke Norris limped out of the draw with Colchester United, joining Josh March in the treatment room.

Norris, as expected, was a no show and that meant the bench was short, just six subs named instead of the usual seven.

However, the fears of a reoccurrence of Vancooten's hamstring injury proved unfounded and he took his place in a starting line-up that showed just one change.

It was a tactical one too, Michael Bostwick coming in for Jake Forster-Caskey to provide an extra layer of protection at the back.

There were still three forwards though and one of them, Jamie Reid, almost gave them a perfect start when he turned in the box and fired towards goal.

A deflection off a defender was just enough to take it inches past the post.

That set the tone and while there wasn't a hatful of Boro chances, they were by far and away the better team.

Euan Murray was needed on a couple of occasions to foil promising positions, sliding in to dispossess Rose on one side before blocking the same player's cross after a quick and incisive break.

There was even a shot from Vancooten, playing as a defensive midfielder in the first period alongside Bostwick, so it wasn't a surprise when a goal finally came their way.

And it was a study in beautiful simplicity.

A right-wing cross from Luther James-Wildin was delivered with finesse, meaning Rose who had run to the front post, just had to guide across Jakub Stolarczyk and into the far corner.

There could have been a second too and the fact there wasn't a red card incensed Evans and the Boro bench.

Alex Gilbey ran in behind and with the goalkeeper well off his line, the attempted lob hit the stopper and bounced away.

Some of the Boro players and the rest of the Boro bench insisted it was stopped by a hand.

That may have been the case and it was certainly the truth for those watching from the far side.

The decision was a little less clear cut from the other side of the ground though.

What it did do was wake a home crowd up who were getting restless earlier on with Pools' inability to get forward.

They were truly woken up just 40 seconds into the second period when they got back level, but it was one for Stevenage to forget.

First Carl Piergianni missed his kick completely and then Max Clark made a timid attempt at a slide tackle instead of just putting it out of play for a throw.

It allowed Josh Umerah to go through on the right-hand side of the box and his pull back was guided into the corner by Featherstone.

It left Boro shell-shocked and although they did have a couple of chances, Reid with a shot blocked and then Jake Taylor surprised by a Rose dummy, Pools were growing more and more confident.

They should really have gone ahead when Boro had three let offs in the space of three seconds.

First there was a clear hold on Umerah from a corner that went either missed or ignored by the officials.

The ball though still bounced towards goal and was somehow smuggled off the line.

However, with goalkeeper and defenders down, Murray just needed to hit the back of the gaping net from five yards.

Inexplicably, he put it over.

Both sides huffed and puffed after that but there was always a feeling something was coming.

There was, that crazy finish, but the point probably favours Pools than it does Boro.


Stevenage: Lo-Tutala, James-Wildin, Clark, Piergianni, Sweeney, Roberts, Vancooten (Taylor 55), Gilbey, Bostwick (Forster-Caskey 74), Reid (Horgan 89), Rose.

Subs (not used): Pryzbek, Campbell, Smith.

Goal: Rose 25

Booked: Vancooten 42, Gilbey 57


Hartlepool United: Stolarczyk, Dodds, Ferguson, Murray, Umerah, Cooke (Finney 83), Pruti, Featherstone (McDonald 69), Jennings, Foran (Sylla 36), Kemp (Crawford 83).

Subs (not used): Killip, Grey, Kiernan.

Goal: Featherstone 46

Booked: Murray 28


HT: Hartlepool United 0 Stevenage 1

Referee: Paul Howard (London)

Attendance: 5,687 (including 171 from Stevenage)