Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison prides himself on his team’s ability to entertain with the ball at their feet.
But it was not Pools’ silky skills and attacking prowess that caught the eye of the manager at Macclesfield Town last night, it was their willingness to roll their sleeves up and do the dirty work to secure a point.
On his full debut, Jake Cassidy netted a second-half equaliser as the visitors dominated at Moss Rose in difficult conditions.
And while the pouring rain and sodden pitch were not exactly conducive to expansive play, it was Pools’ adaptability that impressed their manager the most.
“They can be proud of their efforts out there,” he said of his players after they got their National League Premier Division campaign off and running with a point.
“They won the second balls and did a lot of the horrible stuff to come away with a point.
“In the second half, there was only one team who looked like they were going to win.”
While, in an attacking sense, Pools were night and day from their Dover show on opening day, the team’s defensive frailties were again laid bare by the Silkmen, particularly down the left.
Harrison believes chances at either end are just going to be part and parcel of Pools’ season, due to the way he wants his team to play.
“It was a poor goal to concede, to be honest. We know that,” he said of Danny Whitaker’s opener for Macclesfield.
“Looking back, we are disappointed with it.
“We should do better – he should not have a free header, unmarked.
“But that’s by the by. We have moved on from that and every player, to a man, has put a real shift in.
“The league we are in, the way we play, there are going to be chances. That’s just the way we want to play.
“The difference is who has that little bit more quality.
“Football is all about that.
“It’s about mistake and who takes advantage of them.
“Our fitness, our power and our strength were exceptional. The lads worked hard and had a real go.”
While Pools’ performance was far from vintage it was a massive improvement on Saturday’s home loss to Dover. The visitors looked sharper in the tackle, quicker to close down and generally smarter in the final third, creating chances at will as the game went on, when even a shot was hard to come by last time out.
Harrison continued: “We had a reaction from the opening day.
“We lost the first day and the players responded well, especially to going behind.
“The lads were exceptional. They really, really dug in out there.”
Pools visit Maidenhead United on Saturday (12.30pm kick-off).
Gateshead beat Guiseley 1-0 with a Neill Byrne goal early in the second half, in front of a crowd of 629.
They are at home again on Saturday, with Torquay United the visitors.