FARNBOROUGH Town's chances of avoiding the dreaded drop from the Conference have been handed a massive boost - thanks largely to Glenn Cockerill.

The Woking boss sensationally turned down the opportunity of signing Geoff Pitcher on-loan earlier in the season and was left to rue his decision on Tuesday night when the Brighton midfielder smashed a superb 25-yard equaliser to heap further misery on the Surrey side.

Cockerill's loss is almost certainly now the gain of his Boro counterpart Ian McDonald, who is marvelling in the bit of business, which is fast improving his side's chances of maintaining its Conference status for next year.

Pitcher has already become a crowd favourite at Cherrywood Road after a series of influential performances and a recent tally which reads three goals in four matches.

But, unlike Cockerill it seems, Macca is not surprised with the buzz that Pitcher has generated around the terraces.

He said: "Nothing Geoff does surprises me. I've seen him score goals like that many times for Millwall and then Kingstonian.

"I thought he needed a few more goals to make him the complete midfielder and he's certainly answered me on that in recent games.

"He's playing on the top of his game at the moment, it's a real bonus to have a midfield player like Geoff contributing with goals in a situation like ours."

Pitcher's venomous curling strike from outside the box capped another fine individual and team performance, which was unlucky not to have earned all three points against a patched-up Woking side, which almost beat runaway leaders Yeovil just three days before.

That said, Pitcher wasn't the only Boro star to walk out of Kingfield a hero — keeper Tony Pennock also played a major part in the result with a wonder save from former Yeovil team-mate Warren Patmore just after the break, which Macca likened to Gordon Banks' miracle stop from Pele in the 1970 World Cup.

Worringly, for the third away game running, Boro started extremely slowly, allowing Woking to come at them in numbers.

And, for the third game running, this led to Boro conceding early - and again it came as a result of slack defending. A 12th minute long throw from the left was flicked on by Patmore and Jon Coates — the smallest Woking player on the pitch — stole in with a looping header which left Pennock rooted to the spot.

Slowly though, Boro managed to find their feet after the bad start lasted for 20 minutes or so, and chances at the other end began to come.

Dean Green produced a reaction save from Robert Burch at the near post with a rasping drive from the angle, while Rocky Baptiste just failed to keep his header down from Chris Piper's centre.

But if having only three substitutes on the bench wasn't bad enough for Macca, Christian Lee limped off with an occurrence of the hamstring injury which kept him out of the Leigh RMI game last week, thus adding to his dilemma.

Macca shuffled his limited pack by bringing on young striker Danny Potter and reverting Lenny Piper to midfield and Garry Butterworth to the back — and it seemed to work a treat as all three put in sterling performances in their respective positions.

Indeed, Potter presented fellow youngster Paul Harkness with a golden chance just before the break when diverting Darren Annon's drive into his path, only for the winger to shoot wide of the far post.

Just when it looked as though Boro would go on from here, back came Woking, only for the brilliant Pennock to deny them.

Just seconds after diving acrobatically to keep out another goalbound header from Coates, Pennock produced a save of the very top drawer when Ben Townsend's cross ricocheted off Patmore, only for the wrong-footed Welshman to superbly re-position himself and scoop the ball to safely from the goal-line.

Inspired by their keeper, Boro upped the pace again, and after Baptiste tested both Burch and centre defender Chris Collins, it was left to Pitcher to level the scores.

Potter's 62nd minute cross from the right rolled just behind Baptiste, who retrieved the ball and laid off for Pitcher to strike magnificently from 25 yards past the out-stretched keeper and in at the far post.

From that moment on, and after Woking lost key midfielder Scott Canham through concussion, it was all Farnborough with Baptiste the main threat. His trickery opened up two chances from the angle — the first beating Burch but also the far post, the second, pulled back a touch more, missing the on-rushing Lenny Piper by inches.

WOKING: Burch; Boardman, Canham (sub S Smith 67mins), Townsend, Patmore (Abbey 80), Sharpling, Collins, Campbell, Nade, Hamilton, Coates (Williams 70). Not used: N Smith, Tucker.

BORO: Pennock; C Piper, Taggart, Annon, Lee (sub Potter 34mins), Green, Pitcher, Butterworth, Harkness, L Piper, Baptiste. Not used: Ayres, Osborn.

Ref: J Singh. Att: 1,889.

l Boro fans are still awaiting latest news on the Evening with Mick McCarthy night, scheduled for Wednesday March 26, after the man in question was named as manager of Sunderland.

The move deals Boro another blow as highly-respected coach Ian Evans, who had been training the squad over the last couple of weeks, was named his No.2.