IT took a long time in coming but when it did, it arrived in style.

Farnborough fans will have to look back to September 28 for the last time they celebrated a league win on the road, and Boxing Day for their last league success anywhere at all.

But just when it mattered most, Boro turned on the style and handed caretaker boss Ian McDonald his first victory by registering a quarter of their away goal tally for the season in one blistering 90 minutes.

The bony, hard Rockingham Road pitch made passing football difficult, but Macca's men adjusted the better and clinched a vital three points in the relegation dogfight with a battling and committed display.

A major boost for Macca with five "cup finals" still left to play, is the return of loan midfielder Geoff Pitcher, who shrugged off a hamstring injury to make his comeback and show Boro fans just what they have been missing over the last four games.

Pitcher's influence contributed to goals from Rocky Baptiste and Ken Charlery, sandwiched by a brace from Lenny Piper, as Boro raced to their biggest away win of the season, while all but condemning Kettering to the drop.

Macca revealed afterwards that the 13-game winless run had even made him question his own ability as a coach, so he was naturally delighted at having broken his duck.

He said: "These last five or six weeks have been total frustration as we have been playing some good football and creating chances. The only difference today is that we have stuck them away.

"I've said all week that today's game was a win game only and that these next six games are bigger than the Arsenal game earlier in the season.

"They have responded magnificently and I'm chuffed to bits, for myself also, because you start to doubt your ability a little bit in getting the best out of your players.

"But at the end of the day, I've seen ability, I've seen effort, all I haven't seen in my time at the club is that little rub of the green and that bit of Lady Luck.

"We got it today and we've come out comfortable winners in the end."

Macca's fortunes turned with a chance phonecall from Pitcher on Friday afternoon, confirming his fitness and availability, causing the boss and his assistant Tommy Taylor to re-think his team selection in order to facilitate their most prized asset.

Gary Patterson, with his dodgy knee still a concern, was rested with the hard pitch in mind, and Macca's decision took just five minutes to bare fruit when Pitcher sprayed the ball wide to Baptiste, who centred invitingly for Piper to bundle the ball home at the near post.

But all thoughts of going on to record a comfortable victory from there, took a hammer blow when Boro, once again, were punished for momentarily switching off at the back.

Nine minutes later, Chris Piper failed to close down Shaun Murray, who centred for the unmarked Michael McKenzie to fire home his first competitive goal for the Poppies from the edge of the box.

But Boro never gave up and within the same time span, they re-gained their lead, courtesy of a fine piece of Baptiste skill. Lenny Piper's corner from the left was headed on by Jim Rodwell to the feet of Baptiste with his back to goal.

Danger looked minimal until Baptiste turned sharply 10 yards out, foxing no fewer than three defenders, before slotting the ball home in the far corner.

But the onslaught didn't stop there. Pitcher then unfortunately struck the foot of the post after being put through by Lenny Piper, while Baptiste's delicate chip from the angle, pulled out a top drawer save from youth team keeper William Gourley.

Indeed, all the time you could sense the confidence draining from a doomed-looking Kettering side, playing in front of, by far, their lowest crowd of the season.

Those fans who did show up seemed more content in calling for the head of under-fire chairman Peter Mallinger, and with Boro comfortable by the break, Kettering were surely there for the taking.

But, after Joff Vansittart pulled another crucial save out of Gourley, the Poppies found another gear and gave Macca a few nervous moments.

Tony Pennock somehow reacted to save with his legs from Alex Revell's close range effort, while Craig Norman squandered two opportunities with his head and then the boot, but both sailed over the bar harmlessly.

But the Poppies' charge all but ended on 63 minutes when, after Scott Goodwin reacted to a minor scuffle with Garry Butterworth two minutes earlier, with a cynical elbow to his face in the centre circle, leaving referee Steve Habgood no choice but to send him to an early bath.

From that moment on, Boro looked in little danger although the third goal remained crucial. Space opened up, leaving Pitcher and Piper with the freedom of the park at times, and it was no surprise when Piper did open up a two-goal advantage when latching onto Vansittart's lay-off from a Butterworth corner and slotting home into the corner having jinked inside two defenders.

Boro's confidence grew by the second - Gourley twice thwarted Tony Taggart with explosive runs into the box from the left, while Poppies centre back Brett Solkhon denied substitute Charlery on the goal line after more powerful work by Vansittart.

But with the seconds ticking down, Boro completed the rout when Chris Piper, after a neat one-two with Vansittart on the right, centred for Charlery to bag his first goal since that Boxing Day thrashing of Woking with the simplest of tap-ins from close range.

So, with one cup final won and results largely going in Boro's favour, the pressure has been eased somewhat, although, such is the nature of this relegation scrap, victory is a must again come Saturday when high-flying Morecambe roll into town.

BORO: Pennock; C Piper, Taggart (sub Harkness 86mins), Lee, Annon, Rodwell, Pitcher (Patterson 82), L Piper, Baptiste (Charlery 68), Vansittart, Butterworth. Not used: Osborn, Green.

Ref: S Habgood. Att: 877.