IT has been a long year for Miguel De Souza but Boro's experienced striker can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

De Souza, plagued by injury, made only his third start of the season and celebrated it with a fine goal to earn his side a hard-fought point.

Even one of England's new recruits, Michael Ricketts, who was a surprise onlooker in the stands, must've been impressed with his fellow frontman's goal and all-round display.

"It's been a long time coming," said a delighted De Souza who has been on the sidelines with knee ligament trouble. "I have been out since February last year, came back on December 1, had a couple of games and got back in the first team but have had some niggly injuries since. My knee is not quite right but it's getting stronger and stronger and I'm working on the weights every day trying to build up my fitness.

"It's been very frustrating. It's helped in the sense that we've had Lee Riddell, Keith Dublin, Justin Gregory and other players who have been coming back from long term injuries and when someone is down, the group is there to pull them up.

"I'm tired after the 90 minutes but I wouldn't be doing my job properly if I wasn't. It's good to complete 90 minutes though. It's the first time I've done that since I've been injured and to top it with a goal is 'happy days' again."

Boro manager Graham Westley was full of praise for De Souza. "It's his best performance since he's been back," he said. "He's worked very hard to get himself fit. The cruciate is a very difficult injury to get back from. Since he's come back there have been half a dozen or so moments when I have thought 'you can still do it', and today there were a lot more of those moments. He really deserved the goal that he got."

De Souza's glancing header that brought Boro level was vital and keeps Boro nestled in mid-table.

The home side had started well enough but fell behind on 21 minutes to a well-taken strike from Mark Quayle. The former Morecambe striker slalomed his way into the penalty box and finished coolly past debutant Tony Pennock in the Boro goal.

Pennock has been brought in for a month on loan from Rushden after Darren Bonfield twisted his ankle (Bonfield, like Boro's other keeper Steve Farrelly, is two or three weeks away from fitness).

Boro, in the words of Westley, were "shell-shocked" after that and needed a half-time gee-up to get them going again.

Seven minutes after the break they hit the woodwork, when De Souza successfully challenged Telford keeper Paul Edwards, and headed Steve Watson's cross onto the bar. Edwards redeemed himself and parried the rebound from De Souza. Warner then hit over but the pressure was beginning to tell and De Souza brought the scores level with a clinical finish from another Watson cross.

The goal brought a response from Telford who had been unambitious and content to sit on their lead up to that point.

Peter Smith hit a long range shot narrowly wide while for Boro Barry Laker went close to scoring during a goalmouth scramble, leaving Westley to reflect on what might've been. I think we did enough to win the game over the 90 minutes," he said. "It is a sound point however."

BORO: Pennock; Warner, Gregory, Patterson (sub Green 72), Annon, Laker, Watson, Holloway, Vansittart (Crawshaw 88), De Souza, C.Piper (L.Piper 61). Not used: Benstead, Harper.

TELFORD: Edwards; Davies, Hanmer, Moore, Bentley (sub King 28mins), Albrighton, Fitzpatrick, Fowler, Quayle (Moore 82), Smith, Palmer.

Referee: Wendy Toms. Att: 667.

Boro make the re-arranged trip to Barnet tonight (Tuesday, ko 7.45pm). The Supporters Club are taking bookings for Saturday's trip to Nuneaton. Call Adrian on 01252 546792.