If there are to be hard times ahead for Farnborough Town, the leadership skills of new caretaker manager Ian McDonald are going to be tested to the full in the coming months.
A 2-2 draw with a side currently sitting sixth in the table was a decent enough way to introduce yourself to your faithful following, but it was the spirit shown by the players which will have pleased McDonald more than anything. There has to be plenty more of that in the coming months.
Almost as soon as his appointment was made late last week, the new boss called on the Boro fans to make their presence felt in his first game in charge against the Bulls. The last time Boro ran out for a midweek game, the crowd reached just over 700 but Tuesday's attendance broke the 1,000 barrier and it appears that McDonald is already succeeding in an area where his predecessor continually failed.
Hereford showed class and creativity in the opening stages, with Paul Parry causing problems down the left-hand side for the visitors. But it was Boro who seemed to have all but broken the deadlock in the 14th minute when Rocky Baptiste rounded Matt Baker in the Bulls' goal - only to slip and scuff his effort as he attempted to stroke the ball into an empty net.
A clear miss, and perhaps one that you would think would play on a strikers mind. However, credit has to go to Baptiste for his persistence just three minutes later - when he finished at the second attempt after hitting home Chris Piper's fine cross.
Lenny Piper, looking as dangerous as ever in the middle of the park, could have doubled the advantage in the 24th minute but fired straight at the keepers legs. Meanwhile, Hereford peppered Tony Pennock's goal with several long-range efforts, which were easily dealt with by the former Yeovil stopper.
It was becoming a question of Boro taking their chances, as they were creating enough of them. So when Gary Patterson - making his first league start of the season - found enough space to break free and get a free header to Garry Butterworth's corner in the 32nd minute, the two-nil goal cushion was very much welcomed as Hereford continued to look dangerous going forward.
A crucial moment in the game then came in the last minute of the half when Patterson's through ball found Lenny Piper clean through on goal. It all but seemed certain from here Boro would take a 3-0 advantage into the dressing room with them but Piper's placed shot was well saved by Baker and Hereford breathed again.
The visitors then came out flying in the second half, and in fairness Boro were up against the ropes taking some heavy punishment. Pennock saved well from both John Grant and Steve Guinan but there was little he could do in the 60th minute when former Woking player Jamie Pitman found the back of the net from 25 yards to pull the Bulls right back into the contest.
From here the pressure grew, but Boro stood firm until Danny Williams' fantastic right-foot volley flew beyond the grasp of Pennock in the 81st minute to ensure a share of the spoils for play-off chasing side - which was possibly no more than they deserved.
After the match, McDonald said: "I thought it was a cracking game. We scored two excellent goals and could have got the third right on half-time and in the end that turned out to be a vital save by their keeper.
"They scored two fanrastic goals and I think that their good play — along with a few tired bodies on our side enabled them to get back into the game."
Speaking about Saturday's clash at Dagenham & Redbridge, the manager added: "We have got hard games all month. There are no easy games in the Conference and Dagenham will be another good test."
The Daggers, themselves FA Cup heroes after also reaching round four of course, are hoping to welcome keeper Tony Roberts, Paul Terry and Mark Janney back from injury.
BORO: Pennock; C.Piper, Taggart, Annon, Lee, Patterson, L.Piper, Butterworth, Charlery, Baptiste, Vansittart.
Ref: K Woolmer. Att: 1,030.