Another day and another penalty decision that went against Stevenage saw them have three points ripped away from them at Port Vale.

On Tuesday night against Reading, they thought they had one for handball, something late admitted by referee chiefs.

But with time almost up, a cross from the right hit Dan Butler and the linesman flagged for the spot-kick.

Funso Ojo scored that to leave it 2-2.

Prior to that Terence Vancooten had taken centre stage.  

The central defender had put the ball into his own net on five minutes to give the home side the lead.

But after a complete tactical switch at half-time, he added a second for Boro before the hour mark, after Jamie Reid had equalised.

Boro should have added a third, missing two glorious opportunities, but they looked to have seen time out until that late pivotal decision.

Manager Steve Evans decided to make four changes from the 1-0 loss at home to Reading on Tuesday.

Back came Luther James-Wildin and Finley Burns while there was a first start for Nesta Guinness-Walker.

Nathan Thompson also came for his first appearance since picking up a four-match ban at Portsmouth on New Year's Day.

The two Dans, Sweeney and Butler, joined Jordan Roberts and Louis Thompson in dropping out, the latter trio to the bench alongside the returning Kane Hemmings.

Vale had sacked their manager on Monday and came into the game with just one point from their last five games.

A goal in five minutes was therefore gleefully accepted.

And it was a gift too, Stevenage giving way too much space in the middle of the park and on their left where Gavin Massey was put clear.

His  cross-field effort seemed to be going wide but a sliding Terence Vancooten connected with it far too well and sent it hurtling into his own net.

They had almost got in before that, Ethan Chislett getting in behind until Guinness-Walker got back, and they needed a save from Craig MacGillivray to tip a James Wilson shot behind shortly after.

The keeper then earned the ire of the home fans by going down for treatment, the rest of his team heading to the sideline to get tactical instructions.

That did at least cut down on the home side's attacking threat but it didn't do a thing to help Stevenage get a foot in the game.

Their only real chance of note was a Vancooten shot that bounced its way through to goal and one which Connor Ripley decided needed put behind rather than held.

However, Vale still had chances too, Funso Ojo and Chislett both putting attempts over the top although the latter should really have scored with an unmarked header six yards out from a Conor Grant cross.

Half-time was a blessed relief for Boro and it the only question was how many of the subs would come on.

Five wouldn't have been a surprise.

It turned out to be three - Butler, Hemmings and Louis Thompson replacing Jake Forster-Caskey, Nathan Thompson and Vadaine Oliver.

The changes had Boro go to an almost traditional 4-4-2 and it was from the nominal right winger than the equaliser came.

It was almost a carbon copy of Carl Piergianni's goal at Wigan too.

Nick Freeman got the ball out on the wing and it always seemed likely he would aim for the far post.

Piergianni knew that and after spinning away from Jesse Debrah, he headed down into the ground and then up onto the crossbar.

The rebound fell to Reid a yard out and he poked it home.

It got better six minutes later.

A Butler free-kick wasn't cleared and Port Vale never pushed out.

When it came back in, it found its way to Freeman at the back post. He simply rolled it into the middle, round the recovering defender, for Vancooten to turn into the far corner.

Reid would have a glorious chance to seal the game on 76 minutes but with Nathan Smith for company, he lashed an effort over the top.

That would have been a timely goal too as it came in the middle of a good spell of Vale pressure.

Piergianni was the rock on which it floundered on a few occasions, the skipper blocking and then clearing a couple of chances.

Grant was clear of everyone though when he received a low free-kick on the edge of the area.

He lofted it over though.

Burns then had an even more glorious chance to seal the game for Boro when he was played in through the middle.

But from 12 yards out he sent it a good six yards over the bar.

Six added minutes came and Stevenage had to make one big effort to scramble one effort away and that looked to be that.

However, there was still more to come.

Match details

Stevenage: MacGillivray, James-Wildin, N.Thompson (Butler 46), Piergianni, Forster-Caskey (L.Thompson 46), Freeman, Vancooten, Burns (MacDonald 88), Reid, Guinness-Walker (Roberts 75), Oliver (Hemmings 46).

Sub (not used): Ashby-Hammond, B.Thompson.

Goals: Reid 52, Vancooten 58

Booked: Piergianni 33, Forster-Caskey 36, MacGillivray 90+3, Butler 90+7


Port Vale: Ripley, Lopata (Jones 65), Smith, Chislett (Mighten 59), Ojo, Grant, Lowe, Massey, Weir, Debrah (Sang 83), Wilson (Dipepa 83).

Subs (not used): Leutwiler, Shorrock, Walters.

Goals: Vancooten (og) 5, Ojo (pen) 90+8

Booked: Lowe 28, Ojo 82


HT: Port Vale 1 Stevenage 0

Added time: 9

Referee: Scott Tallis (Coventry)

Attendance: 5,296 (including 145 from Stevenage)