IAN McDonald heaped praise on both the players and supporters of Farnborough Town after completing his mission impossible - just in the nick of time.

Needing at least a point to be all but sure of Conference football next season, McDonald's weary Boro looked to be going into a tense last game battle with fellow strugglers Nuneaton on Saturday until Ken Charlery popped up in the EIGHTH minute of injury time to secure the club's top-flight status.

The scenes at the end of this nail-biting of matches were reminiscent of the Ryman League title celebrations two years ago, with jubilant fans hailing an equally-impressive achievement given the very different circumstances.

While Gravesend left in fury, the party was just beginning with Macca hailed as the hero of the hour.

Whatever happens in what's expected to be a hive of activity this summer, new chairman Vic Searle has just GOT to keep Macca on board.

The man has found his niche, a second spiritual home to the one at the Rec, and earned himself respect from a new loyal following having somehow keeping the club afloat in the wake of Westley and saving it from the inevitable against all odds.

But typical of the man, Macca has directed the praise elsewhere. He said: "It's been a lot harder task to keep us up in the Conference than I thought it would be. It would be nice to do that in a healthy mid-table position but I've had many obstacles put in my way these last eight or nine weeks and more fences to jump than the horses in the Grand National.

"But those things are there to test you and it's of great credit to everyone around me at the club, who have been magnificent, especially the fans.

"Just when we needed that little bit of encouragement in the last 15 minutes they were there and to see the smiles on their faces when the players came back out to acknowledge them, made us all feel very proud.

"It's a personal triumph for everyone here at the club but at the end of the day it's the players who go out on the pitch. I think they respect me and Tommy (Taylor, assistant manager), but most of all they want to do it for the fans."

While Boro fans clambered onto the pitch, cheering their heroes and recognising the achievements of all, their counterparts from just round the M25 were left none to happy with the hand they were dealt.

A number of niggly incidents throughout this end-to-end game led to frustration - not helped by the amount of time referee Lee added on for stoppages.

The pressure told and led to unpleasant scenes at the end with Farnborough's over-worked stewards preventing what could have been a nasty situation.

The reason for their frustration was quite evident as Gravesend enjoyed the best out of what was a nervy encounter, indicative of a typical end-of-season relegation scrap.

This was Boro's third vital game in six days, and it showed. Without the likes of Geoff Pitcher (foot), Joff Vansittart (ankle) and Garry Butterworth, who still hadn't fully recovered from a hamstring pull, Macca and Taylor were left to shuffle the pack once more with key defender Jim Rodwell only able to make the bench following his bout of bronchitis.

As a result, it really wasn't a performance to write home about, and but for the events of the 98th minute and the celebrations that followed, it would have made for another nervous week.

Gravesend enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and should have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute when Boro were caught at sixes and sevens at the back with a three-on-one attack. Somehow, however, Tostao Kwashi blasted over the top from point blank range.

Kevin Budge and Nick Burton also went close with efforts before Boro did finally find their feet to test the Fleet back line with winger Paul Harkness the main instigator.

His mazy run and dangerously driven centre could have gone anywhere while keeper Paul Wilkerson was left stranded by his 20-yard effort on goal which whisked past the post.

Wilkerson was then on hand to palm away Lenny Piper's close range effort as Boro pressed late on in the half, but back come Fleet after the break with a sustained period of pressure which many thought would win them the game.

Soon after Justin Skinner hacked clear off his own goal-line to deny Rocky Baptiste, the visitors went close on a couple of occasions before Skinner himself floated over a 72nd minute corner, Boro cleared to Jimmy Jackson on the edge of the box, and after a delicate volley into the danger area, Liam Hatch headed home past Tony Pennock.

Boro's response was weak and weary, leading only to rash challenges from Chris Piper, Christian Lee and Gary Patterson, all leading to needless bookings.

But just when it looked that Fleet had stolen the points, Lady Luck finally shined down on Cherrywood Road to send the home fans happy.

An hamstring injury to Pennock added to the four additional minutes shown on the board by the fourth official, but it wasn't until the start of the 98th minute that Boro made it count.

After Baptiste somehow got in the way of Danny Potter's goalbound header from corner number one, Tony Taggart whipped in number two, sparking an almighty melee in the box and Charlery was on hand to hook the ball home from close range to the delight.

Christian Lee still found time to give his home fans a few nervous moments after having to clear from his own goal-line after a mix-up with sub keeper Mark Osborn, but his success in doing so prompted wild celebrations as his namesake in charge finally blew up to signal the end of Farnborough's home plight this season.

Boro, do, however, finish their season off this Saturday with a trip to struggling Nuneaton Borough — desperate for a win in order to avoid the drop themselves.

Macca is well aware that the likes of local rivals Woking, deep in trouble at the foot of the table, are desperate for Boro to do them a favour.

The boss has promised the Cards he will not let them down, claiming his side "owe it to the rest of the Conference" to take this game like any other, despite having little but pride to play for.

Woking boss Glenn Cockerill will want much the same as Saturday when Boro battled to a crucial point at Margate.

In probably the most non-descript game of the season, Macca's men put in a professional display, marshalled expertly at the back by Vansittart, enjoying a new lease of life at the back in the absence of Rodwell.

Pennock made vital saves to deny both Sam Sodje and Leon Braithwaite, but it was Boro who went the closest to breaking the deadlock when Lenny Piper brought out a fine point-blank save from Margate keeper Phil Smith in the dying seconds.

BORO (Monday): Pennock (sub Osborn 90mins); C Piper, Taggart, Annon, Lee, L Piper, Harkness (Potter 77), Patterson, Baptiste, Charlery, Green (Rodwell 45). Not used: Butterworth.

Ref: R Lee. Att: 1,015.

l The End of Season Presentation Night and Social Event takes place at the club on Saturday May 3.

Tickets, on sale at the club offices, are priced at £22 and anyone over the age of 18.

l The reserves end their Capital League campaign with a home game against Yeading at Cherrywood Road on Monday April 28, ko 7.45pm.