With Europe trailing badly to the US in the Ryder Cup, Poulter proved a talisman to turn their deficit around.
Pools are in a mess at the foot of League One - this was their 22nd game without a win and they have an embarrassing nine points to their name.
After watching a re-run of the Ryder Cup in recent days, Hughes said: "I said before the game I had watched a lot of television over Christmas and one thing I noted was the Ryder Cup performance of Ian Poulter.
"He led from the front and inspired. I'm 100 per cent convinced that watching a guy in front of them clawing it back and giving his all inspired the team to victory.
"That's what we have to do, the same in football - inspire your teammates.
"Who is going to lead from the front and inspire others? That's what we have to do to win football matches.
"I feel for them, I really do. We are fragile and can see bits and pieces of trepidation in our game. I've tried to give them confidence and have had a good response.
"I sit back, look at it and I am with them all the way to come up with a system and team selection to give them a lift and a chance of winning games.''
Old boy Matty Robson caused their downfall, with a goal and two assists and until he caused the opener, there was little to choose between two out-of-form sides.
"It's the same old story for us, here we go again,'' said Hughes. "I refuse to talk about luck, but see the highlights and people will know what I'm on about.
"I feel for Scott Flinders. He's been one of the best players since I came to the club and that's just part and parcel of football.
"We are where we are and cannot do anything about that. Will we win every game between now and the end of the season? I very much doubt it.
"But we will wear our heart on our sleeves and show the supporters we are up for a fight and a battle.''
He added: "We were comfortable then found ourselves two down. I felt in the first half the spirit was good and we started well, it just wouldn't go for us to get a goal.
"At this moment, I'm trying to give them some freedom to go out and play.
"Commitment and effort were there, but bits and pieces in the second half when we were chasing the game weren't there.''