Football - Smith's men blown off course

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 goalless draw at Hartlepool.

PA Sport

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.

Smith's side sit two places and three points adrift of the play-offs.

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

"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."

Smith was satisfied with the competent debut of loan goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, signed last week from Manchester United.

"Sam didn't have a lot to do, good handling and commanded his box well," said Smith. "A clean sheet on his debut was a positive. There's no worries about him and we are pleased to get him here."

View comments (0)