Pools Share Spoils With Saddlers
Pools played out a 0-0 draw with Walsall on a windy afternoon at The Vic.
The result sees Pools play out their third successive 0-0 at The Vic and their sixth game without a goal this afternoon.
After early pressure, and a corner from Pools, the visitors went on to enjoy the best of the opening ten minutes.
James Chambers sent a great cross in from the right that was sent just narrowly wide by Nicky Featherstone under pressure from Sam Collins.
And that wasn’t the last time Pools’ big defender was called into action to clear the danger as, just moments later, he threw himself in bravely to block a Febian Brandy strike at goal.
But once the early pressure had been dealt with, it was Pools who looked the more like scoring for the remainder of the first half.
Steve Howard, who was a real presence for Pools, was first to try his luck but his header was blocked well by Walsall’s new on-loan keeper Sam Johnstone.
Great work by Jonathan Franks, who was bright this afternoon for Pools, saw him lift a lovely ball to the far post where Antony Sweeney just lost out to Andy Taylor who managed to scrape the ball wide of target.
Simon Walton sent an effort in from the edge of the box which went just wide, while Ritchie Humphreys picked out Evan Horwood with an inch-perfect pass. Horwood then delivered a great pass onto the head of Steve Howard in the box but again he was denied by Johnstone.
The lively Franks chipped a ball over the top for Neil Austin to run forward onto and the right back equaled his cross with another one into the box. Sweeney, who was getting forward more this afternoon, threw himself at the ball but his shot was kept out by Johnstone who pulled off a great save.
So it was Pools who were on top for much of the first half and, despite the incredible wind swirling around The Vic, they managed to play some decent football.
But there were no first-half goals and John Hughes will have used the half time break to rally his troops for an important second half.
The second half was more equal, with Walsall offering a bit more in the final third, allowing Pools less time to work on their own breakthrough.
Sam Collins showed his determination to battle right back to the opposite penalty box fighting to win the ball back for Pools, while his defensive partner Peter Hartley put in a crucial block inside the area to deny the visitors.
Going forward and Monkhouse, Sweeney and Franks offered the odd spark for Pools, supported well by Humphreys and Walton behind them.
With the wind seeming to up its tempo, so did Walsall as they began to see more of the ball in the final third and sub Ashley Hemmings went close to opening the scoring with his first effort of the game.
Collins and Hartley, who were both solid this afternoon, had to work hard to the end to keep the visitors out and both defenders put in some crucial blocks in the game to keep the clean sheet.
Neil Austin was another who was strong as Walsall mounted a series of late attacks and the right back put in a clever tackle inside the area to steal the ball from Brandy.
The ninety minutes - plus three added - passed without a goal and Pools again missed out on a crucial victory, dropping back to the foot of the table with this result.
Hughes’ team will next take on MK Dons at The Vic on Good Friday.
Full Time: Pools 0 Walsall 0
Att: 3065 (207 Walsall)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Walton, Humphreys, Sweeney, Franks (James 71), Monkhouse, Howard (Wyke 78)
Subs Not Used: McHugh, Holden, Luscombe, Hawkins, Rutherford,
Walsall: Johnstone, Butler, Featherstone (Hemmings 65), A Chambers, Paterson, Brandy, Downing, J Chambers (Purkiss 71), Taylor, Manom, Westcarr (Bowerman 78)
Holden, Benning, Baxendale, RobertsSubs Not Used: