Spencer Day finally found a cure for Farnborough’s travel sickness – and then backed his patched-up side to send shivers down the spine of the Skrill South title contenders.
Day’s men moved two places closer to mid-table safety with only a second victory on the road all season – in a performance described by the boss as the “best footballing display of the season”.
Now, Day reckons the win has given his young side the confidence to take on the league’s big boys with play-off hopefuls Ebbsfleet and Sutton and runaway leaders Bromley all to come in the next fortnight.
“It was a massive win for us,” Day enthused. “It wasn’t our best overall performance of the season but as far as the football we played it was certainly up there. We played some incredible stuff.
“We’ve hit the post three times and their keeper [ex-Aldershot stopper Mikael Jamiez-Ruiz] has pulled off two unbelievable saves. If it had been four or five they wouldn’t have had any complaints.”
Goals from the in-form Phil Page, on 34 minutes, and a maiden strike from midfielder Matt Ball ten minutes into the second half deservedly put Boro in control, but it could have been more after hungry new signing Connor French and loanee Jon Nurse had both hit the post, Hayes still set up a nervy final few moments with an injury-time strike from Kiernan Hughes-Mason.
Pivotal to Boro’s solidity against big spending Hayes, however, was debutant Luis Morrison-Derbyshire. The former Arsenal trainee, 19, only received international clearance from a previous spell played in Iceland on Monday and was magnificent alongside skipper Alan Inns at the back, leaving Day with a healthy selection headache ahead of Saturday's tough trip to Ebbsfleet United.
Experienced Adam Doyle returns from work commitments, while Alfred Bosch should recover from a slight hamstring pull which ruled him out of a starting place on Tuesday night.
“It’s a nice problem to have,” Day explained. “Luis is a great young defender and it’s easy to see why he's had trials at Fulham and Norwich. He wants to play for us and I thought he was outstanding on Tuesday night.”
At the same time, Day has a dilemma at the other end of the field with the loan deals of Barnet pair Nurse and George Sykes expiring after Saturday, while Harry Lee, whose return to the club has been signed and sealed, is only rated at 50/50 after injuring himself in training at Leyton Orient.
While Nurse, in particular, is an expensive acquisition, Day is also in talks over another loan move for another Conference Premier striker as he gears towards a gruelling month of March, which could prove vital in determining the outcomes at both ends of the table.
“There’s a lot of football to be played in a short space of time,” Day warned. “We’ve got 15 games left and I need to be looking at securing the four or five wins needed to keep us safe.
“That said, it’s a bit different this year as a lot of the teams down the bottom like Dorchester, Maidenhead and Gosport are winning at the moment so it could be that the usual 45-point mark could be raised to 50. It’s going to be so tight.”
Boro did, however, get a taste of a title contender on Saturday when they slipped to a controversial 1-0 home to defeat to second-placed Eastleigh.
Spitfires striker Ben Wright was at the centre of controversy, first debatably beating the offside trap to bundle home what proved to be the winner on 24 minutes following Stuart Fleetwood’s centre.
And then the Salisbury City loanee wen down far too easily under Ollie Treacher’s challenge on the edge of the box, fooling referee Adrian Quelch into awarding a penalty, but Jai Reason’s spot-kick was saved by the outstanding Kevin Scriven.
Boro battled and more than matched their high-profile visitors but the closest they came to testing keeper Ross Flitney was a dangerous through ball to Sykes, which the Barnet loanee just could not control having rounded the on-rushing keeper.
BORO (v Hayes): Scriven; Huggins, Treacher, Ball, Inns, Morrison-Derbyshire, Bennett (Fearn 89), Laidler, Sykes (Bosch 84), Nurse, Page (French 77). Subs: Cole, Siaw.