Walsall 1 Hartlepool United 1

JOHN Hughes has two weeks until his next game in charge of Hartlepool United – time which he will use on the training ground to get his new message across and give his veterans a break.

JOHN Hughes has two weeks until his next game in charge of Hartlepool United – time which he will use on the training ground to get his new message across and give his veterans a break.

Given their current predicament, the new manager is relying on his more experienced players to bring all their nous to a relegation fight.

The quartet of Steve Howard, Paul Murray, Sam Collins and Ritchie Humphreys have all been there and done it, and come through three games in a week.

Pool don’t have the biggest of squads and player rotation isn’t really an option for Hughes, but he has no qualms in leaning on the older generation at Victoria Park.

But it’s now 19 games without a win, one short of the club record of 20 set back in 1993. They next face Stevenage at home on December 8.

By then there won’t be any new players in, but two weeks on the training ground and there may just be some new ideas and a freshness about the place.

“I’ve got Big Sam, Ritchie, Muzza, Big Stevie all fighting their corners in there and that experience in the team is vital,’’ Hughes admitted.

“But I keep saying the supporters should realise we have to take some things from the team, use the experience in this situation, and we need to roll our sleeves up.

“I’m delighted with the effort and commitment the older players have showed. Sometimes your experienced boys take the hits and they have been there in the game for a long time and wise to it all.

“They don’t want a relegation on their CVs, where sometimes younger boys come in with a worry and a fear about the situation.

“These guys who have played three games in a week – I say thanks to them for their efforts and commitment. Now we rest them up and get them ready to go again.’’

Walsall went into Saturday’s game winless in 14 games. It was hardly set up for a classic.

Perhaps Pool were somewhat fortunate to return with a point after a gritty and hard-working display.

Howard won the penalty from which they took the lead, scored by Evan Horwood, intercepting a slack back pass and being tripped by keeper Aaran McCarey.

By then they had already had a few scary moments, and conceded early in the second period when Dean Holden smashed in a shot after Scott Flinders made an instant reaction save from Will Grigg.

However, they defended firmly when put under pressure and held out for a point.

WALSALL: Mccarey, Taundry, Holden, Butler, Taylor, Featherstone, Mantom, Paterson, Brandy, Hemmings (Westcarr 46), Grigg (Bowerman 77). Subs (not used): Grof, Adam Chambers, Downing, Baxendale, James Chambers.

Booked: Mccarey, Taundry. Goal: Holden 49.

HARTLEPOOL: Flinders, Richards, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Humphreys, Murray (Noble 52), Franks (Poole 81), Sweeney, Monkhouse, Howard. Subs (not used): Foden, Luscombe, Baldwin, Holden, Wyke.

Booked: Richards. Goal: Horwood 29 pen.

Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire)

Attendance: 4,562

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