JOHN Hughes celebrated his first point as Hartlepool United manager following this afternoon’s 1-1 draw at Walsall.
Pools, though, are now 12 points from safety heading in to a two-week break and 19 matches without victory.
Hughes’ men had taken the lead through an Evan Horwood penalty in the first half but found themselves pegged back shortly after the break.
The hosts started brightly and Richard Taundry’s teasing centre was almost turned in by the head of Febian Brandy, his six-yard glance skidding wide.
The same player took aim from range soon after but again failed to find the target.
It was all Walsall and Jamie Patterson zipped wide from 20 yards on 12 minutes with a wrong-footed Scott Flinders beaten.
But against the run of play it was Pools who took the lead when Ashley Hemmings rolled a suicidal back-pass in the direction of Aaron McCarey, Steve Howard nicking in before being felled by the sliding home keeper.
Horwood stepped up from 12 yards and tucked home in confident fashion.
Flinders was then forced into his first save as Dean Holden improvised to flick Taundry’s cross-cum-shot towards the bottom corner but the visiting keeper read his intention and dived to snaffle.
The hosts pressed for parity before the break and Andy Taylor hammered wide when steaming on to Taundry’s deep centre.
But they did level matters four minutes after half-time, Flinders blocking Will Grigg’s initial blast with Holden turning in the rebound from point-blank range.
It wasn’t until the 74th minute that The Saddlers threatened again, Patterson racing on to Grigg’s measured throughball but he blazed over.
Brandy then danced around three bodies inside the area but, with just Flinders to beat, somehow drew his low blast wide of goal from just six yards.
That was the final chance of note as Pools held out for a point.