PETER Hartley has not given up hope of Hartlepool United escaping relegation – but first they must go back to basics.
The skipper was dismayed at his side’s performance during Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Oldham Athletic.
Hartley told SportMail in the wake of that game that he believed The Latics had “wanted it more” than Pools.
The 24-year-old insists the same cannot be allowed to happen when Walsall come to Victoria Park tomorrow afternoon, and has delivered this reminder to his team-mates.
“This is League One – even against the team at the top of the league it’s usually a battle first and a football match second,” he told SportMail today.
“If you don’t get the basics right then you don’t stand a chance.
“There are no Barcelonas in this league and it generally works that the team who wants it most will win.
“The games are still coming thick and fast and a couple of quick wins can change things, we’ve already seen that.
“But we need to get back to like how we were during our seven-match unbeaten run.
“That means doing the nasty stuff first, winning the tackles and the second balls, the rest comes after that.”
Hartley looks set to beat a bout of illness to lead his hometown club against The Saddlers.
He admits Wednesday was a dark day in the Hartley household, but says he cannot wait for tomorrow’s game and the chance to make amends.
“I’ve always been told to never get too high when you win and never get too low when you lose,” he went on.
“But you can’t shy away from how poor we were on Tuesday.
“It was our biggest game of the season and we just weren’t good enough all over the park.
“I just needed a day on my own after that.
“But we go into tomorrow knowing there are 21 points to play for – why can’t we win five in a row? We near enough did that last month so let’s do it again.”