FARNBOROUGH Town took one giant leap to consolidating their Conference status after more than holding their own against one of non-League football's giants — for the fifth game running.

Since Ian McDonald has taken over the reigns of the patched-up side left decimated by Graham Westley, he has seen his side take on five of the top seven in the Conference table and not once have they been left wanting.

While Saturday's FA Trophy win over Halifax Town was the only victory in the five, two were hard-fought draws and another two lost by a referee's whistle.

If there are any doubts about the club's future then they certainly don't lie on the pitch. The equation now is simple: Keep this up and Boro will finish in the top half of the table no matter how small their squad is.

It's the kind of form which has Macca purring and left praising his spirited troops, who, in the battle against adversity, have come out with flying colours.

The boss said: "Today has just proved to me, as in previous weeks, that we can compete with the best teams in this league with the squad I've got.

"It was a good Conference game. Doncaster are a very good side and deserve to be second in the league. Some of the games we have played over the last couple of weeks have been like cup ties and it's geed the players up.

"It shows that we are making progress."

Right from the team huddle at the start of the match to the congratulations at the final whistle, Farnborough looked like a side who wanted to play together - happy in each other's company and fully committed to the cause.

This result against a skilful and strong Doncaster side will open people's eyes to the scale of Boro's improvement as a unit. Those who thought Westley's departure would subsequently lead to Boro's, couldn't be more wrong.

Much of that is down to the manager, who has come in and quickly earned the respect of all.

Macca resisted bringing back Stuart Reeks into defence and made just the one change with Geoff Pitcher, unavailable on Saturday, replacing the unfortunate Joff Vansittart, who dropped to the bench.

But Pitcher's invention in midfield proved to be an inspiration with wide men Gary Patterson and Lenny Piper enjoying freedom to carve out early chances in a lively opening.

Donny, however, were proving a handful and should have gone into the break at least one goal to the good - both Francis Tierney and Robert Gill blasting the ball helplessly over when in good positions.

But although the likes of Gill, his partner Paul Barnes and Boro duo Rocky Baptiste and Ken Charlery are regarded as four of the Conference's most feared hitmen, it was goalkeepers Tony Pennock and Andy Warrington who stole the show from there.

Both made a couple of saves from the very top drawer to keep their sides in the contest and both can be credited with earning, single-handedly, what could be a crucial point in the season run-in.

Pennock started proceedings with an unbelievable save with his legs to deny Barnes before Tristam Whitman somehow blasted the rebound over, and then continued the good work, again with his legs, to deny the same man when clean through.

Not to be outdone, Warrington then staked his claim for the man-of-the-match award - and boy did he need to.

Pitcher's fierce drive from 20 yards required an acrobatic tip over the bar while Lenny Piper thought he had stolen the points for his side with four minutes left, only for Warrington to dive low to his left to palm away his effort from similar distance.

Rocky Baptiste still then had time to come close from the edge of the box only for his shot to fly narrowly wide, but, in absolute fairness, anything other than a draw would have been an injustice to an entertaining game of end-to-end football.

Next up for Boro is the visit of unpredictable Barnet to Cherrywood Road on Saturday (ko 3pm).

Peter Shreeves' men are currently five points ahead of Boro in ninth place, and in 18-goal striker Junior Agogo, boast the top scorer in the Conference.

Macca does, however, have a very slight injury concern over Lenny Piper, who suffered a groin strain in the match against Doncaster, although he should be fit.

Chris Piper and Ken Charlery are also dicing with death with four bookings to their name.

BORO: Pennock; C Piper, Taggart, Annon, Lee, Patterson, Butterworth, L Piper, Charlery, Baptiste, Pitcher. Not used: Osborn, Vansittart, Green, Reeks, Harkness.

Ref: D Deadman. Att: 947.

l After the Barnet game on Saturday, Boro go on their travels again when they hit the road to Leigh RMI for a Conference fixture on Tuesday night (ko 7.45pm).

The reserves, who lost 4-0 to Ashford Town in the Aldershot Senior Cup on Wednesday night, play Yeading in the Capital League, next Wednesday (ko 7.45pm).

l Former Millwall and Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy will be making a guest appearance for "An Evening With Mick McCarthy" in the Social Club on Wednesday March 26.

McCarthy agreed to do the gig as a favour to his former colleagues Ian McDonald and new Boro coach Ian Evans, who was his No.2 during his reign in the 2002 World Cup.

Details of the event will be available shortly.

l Darren Annon and Chris Piper will NOT miss the FA Trophy quarter-final with Tamworth on March 15 as first feared.