Walsall manager Dean Smith praised his team's performance despite seeing their winless run extended to 14 games with a 1-1 draw at home to Hartlepool.

The Pools grabbed the lead against the run of play when a poor back-pass from Ashley Hemmings put home goalkeeper Aaron McCarey in trouble and he tripped Steve Howard, Evan Horwood drilling home the resulting penalty after 27 minutes.

For all their pressure Walsall could not find a way through the visitors' defence until four minutes into the second half when Will Grigg's drive was blocked following a corner and defender Dean Holden struck home the rebound.

"I thought we were the better team all through and I've said that to the players," Smith said. "We have to keep believing and playing that way. We have had an unbelievable amount of shots - something like 30 - but it was just not to be. I am concerned about not winning games but we have to keep doing the right things and it will come good."

It is a third successive draw for the Saddlers after sharing the points at Crawley and Tranmere, and Smith added: "We have played some terrific stuff in the three draws. All that's been missing is a win. We have got good footballers here with young players coming through the system and we have adopted a style which suits us.

"We had a lot of success in September and now we are on a run where we haven't won games, but the lads are hungry for success and showed the right attitude and application here."

For new Hartlepool boss John Hughes it was the first point in the three games since he took over, and the former Livingston chief was happy enough despite his men extending their winless run to 19 games - one short of equalling a club record.

He said: "I am delighted with a point - we are fighting for our lives. Walsall were the better football team, I put my hand up to that, but for spirit and effort we deserved a point. We rode our luck at times, but it's about time we had a bit of luck.

"Walsall are a nice footballing side who pass the ball well and we had to make sure we had 100% concentration.

"But the next time we play Walsall (in the new year) we shall be a much better football side. At the moment our game plan is to keep ourselves in matches, and we might nick a goal. We were brave enough to make substitutions and try to win this match."