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League One

Smith's men blown off course

24 March 2013

Walsall manager Dean Smith was left to rue a missed opportunity after his side blew a chance to close the gap on the play-offs in a 0-0 draw at Hartlepool.

In a torrid affair, spoiled by a gale-force wind, the Saddlers made it 10 games unbeaten. But without top scorer Will Grigg, injured on international duty this week with Northern Ireland, they lacked a cutting edge. Pools have now gone six games without a goal and neither side looked like scoring at Victoria Park.

"The wind affected it, it was scrappy with a few opportunities and the conditions won in the end," said Smith.

"It didn't get going, we are disappointed in the dressing room. We broke away late on, had openings and there was a lack of quality in the final third for both teams. I think 0-0 was about right, but we were disappointed with it.

"Hartlepool fought for it, they are battling for their lives. It was always going to be tough. We weren't at the races and the conditions played a part."

Grigg could be back for the Saddlers' trip to Yeovil next weekend and Smith added: "Did we miss Will? We don't know. He wouldn't have played because of his international call-up, and then got injured anyway - but others can score. It didn't happen. Was it because of Will? We don't know yet."

Pools dropped bottom of League One after a third successive 0-0 draw at Victoria Park. Manager John Hughes, whose side had the game's best opening when Antony Sweeney was denied by debutant Sam Johnstone, said: "In terms of effort and shape it was positive. We didn't capitalise like the other night.

"I've seen us play better, a lot better. That's the disappointment. We showed spirit and battled hard. Now we need a system to score goals and win games - even if we go gung-ho then we will have to. You have to praise the two defences, we edged the first half, second half was more Walsall.

"We are thankful some players left their shooting boots at home and they fired over the bar.

"We are up against a team going for the play-offs, we are at the bottom. I want to drive this club forward and implement a style of football that people can be proud of and we are a few years away from it. But we have put pride back in the club and we are getting there."

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