JUST a few weeks ago, Ian McDonald was fighting a desperate losing battle to keep Hampton and Richmond Borough in the Ryman premier division.

He was having to do it in front of measly crowds, on poor pitches and with a scrappy, result-grinding attitude which hardly resembles his slick, free-flowing passing ethic.

That is over now, however, and a new challenge awaits, but the principal is just the same - just far more intense.

Just two weeks after landing the Farnborough job on a caretaker basis, Macca now has the job of plotting the downfall of high-flying Yeovil Town - something very few bosses have managed this season.

Nine points clear at the top of the table and attracting crowds in excess of 4,700, the sleeping giants of Yeovil Town have finally woken up and are seemingly heading for a place in the Football League.

Macca's problems, inherited by the departure of Graham Westley and seven key players, are only just in the process of trying to be solved, but that doesn't stop him believing that his team of spirited battlers could throw an almighty spanner in the title race works.

If Macca's selection problems were bad enough, he now has to take on the runaway Glovers without the services of suspended duo Christian Lee and Chris Piper, while Garry Butterworth (ankle) and Dean Green (leg) both must undergo late fitness test.

But there's few less gritty and determined than Macca in achieving success in the face of adversity, and the new Boro boss promises that the masses who turn up to Cherrywood Road this Saturday, will certainly get their money's worth.

He said: "It's a massive game, probably the biggest of the season and the boys are really looking forward to it.

"Yeovil are nine points clear at the top of the league and they are there on merit. They take with them a fantastic away support so it will be really nice if the Farnborough fans can turn up in full song and help us compete in every way.

"Our coach Ian Evans is coming down tomorrow (Thursday) to put the lads through a tough session, but the lads won't need pumping up for this.

"I've been very impressed with the players in the three games I've seen so far. They earned my respect from the very first match I saw at Telford, and I'm confident that if we can perform to the standards they showed that day, and against Hereford and Dagenham since then, then we have a great chance."

Macca is currently going through a 10-page dossier on Yeovil to get tactics just right for the game, but first must sort out how he is to fill the problem right back slot.

With Piper suspended, Macca has no natural right back in his ranks and must shuffle his squad, possibly either to accommodate Gary Patterson moving back to defence or maybe even switching to a 3-5-2 formation.

If Butterworth fails to make it, Macca could opt to give either Ronnie Girvan or Paul Harkness their Conference debuts alongside Tony Taggart on that left hand side, while he also has the option of bringing Rocky Baptiste out wide and re-instating Joff Vansittart up front.

Whatever happens, it's going to be tough.

Gary Johnson's Yeovil are unbeaten in eight games and won six of those, with ex-Stevenage striker Kirk Jackson and local boy Adam Lindegaard regularly finding the net in recent weeks. Last Saturday they thrashed bottom club Kettering 4-0 in front of 4,738 supporters at Huish Park.

There is, however, unlikely to be a repeat of the ill-feeling generated between the two camps the last time they met, when now-Stevenage boss Westley was sent from his dug-out and almost arrested at Dorchester on September 3.

The FA hearing following that incident was then controversially put back to allow Westley to prepare his team for the trip to Arsenal two weeks ago.

Boro squad from: Pennock; Osborn, Reeks, Patterson, Annon, Taggart, Girvan, Butterworth, Green, L Piper, Pitcher, Harkness, Baptiste, Charlery, Vansittart, Potter.

l Ian McDonald has denied rumours linking star goalkeeper Tony Pennock to his local club Swansea City.

Rumours have circulated about ex-Yeovil keeper Pennock teaming up with the Nationwide division three strugglers but Pennock simply has an arrangement to train with the Swans a couple of days a week to save him making the 330-mile round trip to Farnborough.

Macca said: "It's an amicable arrangement, they'd need a lot of money to sign him!"

Fellow keeper, on-loan Mark Osborn, continues to train occasionally with his club Wycombe.

l Macca will be sitting down with club captain Tim O'Shea next week about the possibility of the centre back returning to the club following a loan spell at Welling United.

O'Shea ends his two-month spell on Saturday and will try to thrash out a deal to stay to the end of the season, at the least, on either Monday or Tuesday.

Gareth Gwillem, on loan at Bishop's Stortford, is not expected to return.

l Wednesday's reserve team match with Havant & Waterlooville was postponed due a waterlogged Cherrywood Road pitch and will be re-arranged shortly.