HARTLEPOOL United boss Mick Wadsworth praised the character of his players for emerging from what he admits was “a horrible period in which we rightly came in for criticism”.
The manager believes that Saturday’s determined display in the 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient has drawn a line under a run of five defeats in six matches.
Pools were forced to see out the final 20 minutes with 10 men following Paul Murray’s dismissal at Brisbane Road, but they had bossed their hosts prior to the midfielder’s red card.
Neil Austin’s second-half penalty cancelled out Dean Cox’s first-half opener.
The much-improved performance arrived on the back of a players’ meeting in which they had pledged to turn the dismal form around.
Wadsworth believes his men have restored pride to the team.
“I must say I’m proud of the players,” the first-team coach said, “It’s been a horrible period for us and we’ve rightly come in for criticism.
“But I always had faith in them and they’ve shown a great determination to get us out of that run.
“I said to the players ‘win, lose or draw I want character and resilience, all the things we showed in the first 10 games’ and in that respect we did really well.
“The performance was much, much better and it was the response I was hoping for.”
The draw means Pools have been beaten just once away from home this season – at Notts County – and leaves them 12th in League One, six points from the play-offs but with a game to spare on all those ahead of them.
They entertain Stevenage in the FA Cup First Round next weekend before a trip to Scunthorpe United in the league.
Wadsworth is confident Pools can reclaim their position towards the top end of the division.
“It’s still been a fantastic start to the season for us and we hope to be back to where we were,” he went on.
“We’re still in a very good position and I want to make the play-offs, I really do.
“We’ve shown we’re good enough to be up there but we’ve had a blip.
“Now the challenge is to put a run of results together like we did do at the start of the season.”
Leyton Orient: Alnwick, Smith, Cuthbert, Forbes, McSweeney, Porter, Dawson, Clarke, Cox, Cureton, Mooney. Subs Not Used: Lovelock, Omozusi, Laird, Cestor, Odubajo. Booked: Cuthbert. Goals: Cox 23.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Wright, Collins, Hartley, Humphreys (Liddle 46), Austin, Sweeney, Murray, Horwood (Brown 83), Poole (Luscombe 90), Monkhouse. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Boyd. Sent Off: Murray (70). Booked: Murray. Goals: Austin 54 pen.
Att: 4,424 Ref: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).