A disappointing first-half proved pivotal as Stevenage crashed to defeat against Leyton Orient and out of the play-offs 

Max Sanders put the away side into a 16th minute lead and that was enough to claim a 1-0 win.

Boro are now down to eighth, behind Lincoln on goal difference and two points adrift of Oxford.

They do have a game in hand but there were frustrations at the end as the two teams clashed.

Stevenage now have a week to go away and regroup for the final eight games. It is needed.

Steve Evans made just the one change from the side that had performed well but ultimately lost at Peterborough United.

That was enforced, Carl Piergianni given a retrospective three match ban for a collision with Ricky-Jade Jones on Wednesday.

In his place came Louis Thompson with Nathan replacing his younger brother on the bench and Dan Sweeney taking the captain's armband.

One further enforced change came prior to kick-off, Taye Ashby-Hammond damaging his groin and being replaced by Craig MacGillivray.

Youngster Rylee Mitchell appeared on the bench.

The disruption can be used as some sort of excuse but unlike the first half at Peterborough, this was not a good performance from the home side.

It was just flat, no life, no spark and a distinct air of feeling sorry for themselves at times.

The goal they conceded after 16 minutes was not good though. Sanders was able to turn on the right side of the box and fire the ball across the replacement keeper and into the far corner.

Ruel Sotiriou had their only other effort of note, sliced horribly wide from the edge of the box when he was unmarked.

Stevenage though had the best opportunity of the half, Jamie Reid glancing a free header straight at Sol Brynn.

The striker, called up by Northern Ireland in the week, did have the ball in the net but the effort was ruled out for handball. 

It seemed harsh, Jordan Roberts blocking a clearance seemingly with the back of a shoulder rather than the arm.

That stuck in the throat a bit but it couldn't hide the fact that Stevenage had not been good, poor even, and needed a shot in the arm and some urgency.

Even the normally placid West Stand had been annoyed right on half-time when the home side went backwards again instead of putting a ball into the box.

The freshness as the boss calls it was in the shape of four new faces and a change of system, the back four and diamond replaced by wing-backs either side of a three.

And it had an effect. Suddenly Stevenage were going forward, suddenly they were looking to get in behind the Orient defence and suddenly there were chances.

Roberts flashed one over the top after a superb spin and flick by Nesta Guinness-Walker and then Reid sent a low shot just wide, just hooking it slightly.

The Orient keeper then had to grab a Nick Freeman shot but it was better.

The visitors responded by taking the scorer off and slowly they were able to put a stick in the spokes of Stevenage's impetus.

They could have doubled their lead too, Omar Beckles heading straight at MacGillivray after getting on the end of Tom James free-kick.

Stevenage had one good chance when Roberts got the ball away from Brynn but after putting it back into the middle, Reid's poor touch simply sent the ball into the arms of the prone keeper.

The visitors also became masters of the dark arts, slowing the play down at every opportunity and the three added minutes suggested they had done it excellently.

The end of the game came with a confrontation after the final whistle. Dan Sweeney and Paul Raynor were both annoyed with something while Richie Wellens pretended to lift a trophy in front of the Orient fans.

Match details

Stevenage: McGillivray, Wildin (N.Thompson 46), Butler (Guinness-Walker 46), D.Sweeney, Freeman, Roberts, Vancooten, Reid, L.Thompson (Forster-Caskey 46) B.Thompson (MacDonald 76), Oliver (List 46).

Sub (not used): Hemmings.


Booked: Vancooten 77


Leyton Orient: Brynn, James, Pigott (Adu-Adjei 74), Sotiriou, Cooper, El Mizouni, Forde, Pratley, Beckles, Sanders (Brown 64), Hunt.

Subs (not used): Howes, J.Sweeney, Moncur, Obiero, Edwards. 

Goals: Sanders 16

Booked: Pratley 44, Forde 83


HT: Stevenage 0 Leyton Orient 1

Added time: 6

Referee: Craig Hicks (Sutton)

Attendance: 5,650 (including 1,374 from Leyton Orient)