Steve Evans had two major grumbles after the draw for Stevenage at Hartlepool - one refereeing decision in the first half and yet more shambolic defending when conceding.

Danny Rose had put Boro in front on 25 minutes but they conceded just 40 seconds into the second half after a catalogue of errors, leaving the match tied at 1-1.

In between Pools' goalkeeper Jakob Stolarczyk had come well out of his box to block an Alex Gilbey lob.

He did that by using the hand according to the Boro boss.

Evans said: "Gilbey tries to lift it, the goalkeeper comes out and he star shapes off the floor. That's what he does, he makes himself big. 

"The mandate is if they make themselves big and it hits the arms, it’s a free-kick and in this case, it is a free-kick and a red card.

"I’ve no complaints with the referee in the other parts of his performance but you can't get a decision of that magnitude wrong."

The equalising goal from Nicky Featherstone, however, was wholly avoidable though.

Evans said: "The defending is awful.

"It starts with the young goalkeeper who suddenly decides to go off the floor with a short kick, against what we've worked on. 

"Then the skipper’s in trouble and Max Clark shouldn’t go to ground but if you go to ground, you have to get there. 

"And then I’ll have to look back at the video and see who [the scorer has] run off at the edge of the box. 

"There should be a central midfield player with him." 

All of that eclipsed an excellent performance from the promotion chasers at Victoria Park.

"They're not in the game," said the Boro manager. "It's our best away performance in months.

"We're totally, totally dominant against a team that's gone and swept the floor with Grimsby 4-1 and beat Swindon here in their last home game. 

"They were wanting half-time and we were shouting for it to continue because we were so dominant. 

"But you have to put your case to bed then. You have to get the second goal and you have to be error free for parts of the game. 

"We'll always make errors, we’re at League Two, but we make four errors and concede.

"Look at the game the other day too. We make three errors and concede against Colchester. 

"It's error driven. 

"They’re fighting in a different type of fight than we've got. They’re fight for their careers as professionals. 

"But we showed in the last 20 minutes that we wanted to win it. 

"We put four up front and we knew we'd leave gaps, we knew that they would have chances, but we backed ourselves to score. 

"And let's be honest, Luther and Daryl Horgan will look back at the evidence and shake their heads."

The result drops Boro down to fifth in an increasingly tight promotion chase.

Just three points separate second-placed Northampton Town from Evans' men, with Bradford just two points further back. 

And the boss still says it is in their hands.

He said: "I can't fault my players’ desire to win a game, and we went to the wire 

"And I think despite one or two winning today, I said if we could bring it home with two home games to and still be fighting for the top three. I'd be happy. 

"I can't criticise the performance but I can criticise the goal in a major way."