PETER Hartley admits he enjoyed exchanging blows with veteran striker Lee Hughes but wishes he had a win to show for his bruises.
Hughes, who once cost Coventry City £5m, watched from the bench during the first-half as Hartley and co took a deserved lead into the break.
Magpies boss Paul Ince turned to his top scorer during the interval in a bid to breathe life into his side and the 34-year-old responded with the goal which earned a point for the visitors.
But that wasn’t before Hughes and Hartley, 11 years his junior, went head to head, literally, on at least a few occasions – the Pools defender seeing yellow for one robust forearm which left his opponent grounded.
And, after the 1-1 draw, Hartley reflected: “If we’d have got another goal in the first half I think we would have gone on and won the game comfortably.
“As a back four during the first half we did really well but knew after half-time that Lee Hughes was going to be a handful and that’s what he was.
“He’s experienced and I really enjoyed playing against him.
“He brings something different to the table – his elbows in my head for one – it doesn’t feel very nice but it’s good because that’s what this league is all about.
“I had to give him one back because you’ve got to look after yourself haven’t you?
“He showed his ability to nick a goal, which was disappointing.
But it was a good duel and if I’m taking positives then I’ll say you learn from playing against players such as him.”
After Hughes’ leveller, a 69th-minute tap-in, Hartley feared the momentum was with the men from Meadow Lane.
But Pools weathered the storm and, in the end, could have nicked maximum points – Andy Monkhouse going desperately close with an injury-time volley.
And Hartley added: “Whatever teams equalises in a game generally they’ve got the wave and Notts County looked as though they could go on to win it.
“Maybe this time last season we would have gone on and lost that game so credit to us, we stuck at it and could have won it.
“Andy Monkhouse had a great strike and that’s what he can do – it was quality but the keeper made a great save.
“It’s shame we couldn’t contain them after half-time but we’ll take a point – we didn’t get beat so that’s a little positive and we’ve got to look to the next game at Oldham next Tuesday.”