Paul Hartley left 'shocked' by 'unacceptable' Hartlepool United in opening day defeat to Walsall

Paul Hartley was left ‘shocked’ by the disappointing level of performance from his Hartlepool United side after they were soundly beaten by Walsall on the opening day of the season.

By Joe Ramage
Saturday, 30th July 2022, 6:10 pm

Pools were beaten four times by the Saddlers, and it could have been more but for a number of strong saves from goalkeeper Ben Killip as Hartley’s first taste of management in the Football League ended in defeat.

Brandon Comley’s deflected effort midway through the first half set the ball rolling for the Saddlers who never looked back.

Danny Johnson grabbed the first of a hat-trick of goals at the Poundland Bescot Stadium five minutes later when firing in his own rebound from Killip.

Paul Hartley gave his verdict after a crushing opening day defeat to Walsall. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Pools failed to muster up any sort of significant threat in the final third with Josh Umerah’s dragged attempt the best they were able to produce in the opening 45 minutes.

Instead, it was the home side who continued in the ascendancy after the break and they added a third on the hour when Johnson powered the ball beyond Killip with a fine strike from the edge of the area.

Johnson would grab his hat-trick in the final quarter of the game when he was on hand to convert Manny Monthe’s nod down inside the area to compound a miserable afternoon for Hartley.

“I can’t dress it up. We were poor all over the pitch,” said Hartley.

“I was expecting a lot more than what I saw today. The last four or five weeks have been good. The pre-season games have been good, but they don’t count. They’re false. This is when the real stuff starts and we just didn’t perform today.

“I take responsibility for the style and how we want to play and how we want to work.

“But sometimes you’ve got to have a bit more desire and show a bit more as a player and they didn’t show that today. If it could go wrong today then it did go wrong.

“We were miles off it. I’m really surprised by it to be honest. I’m shocked at that level of performance.

“I can’t accept another performance like that for as long as I’m here. We’ve got to be miles better than that in everything we do.”