DANNY JOHNSON'S hat-trick got Paul Hartley’s reign as Hartlepool manager off to a nightmare start as Walsall dished out a 4-0 hammering.

After Brandon Comley’s deflected opener, Johnson, on loan from Mansfield until January, stole the show with a dream debut.

Pools keeper Ben Killip foiled Taylor Allen early on but could do nothing when Comley’s strike from 18 yards took a key deflection in the 21st minute.

Walsall doubled their lead on 27 minutes as Isaac Hutchinson fed Johnson, who buried the rebound after his initial strike was parried by Killip.

Josh Umerah drilled just wide from 20 yards with Pools’ first real opening but Johnson made it 3-0 on 58 minutes, slamming Hutchinson’s low cross into the roof of the net from 15 yards.

Hutchinson was denied by Killip after a one-two with Johnson, who completed his treble on 73 minutes by hooking home Manny Monthe’s header across the face of goal.

Owen Evans’ double save denied Jake Hastie a Pools consolation but Killip saved from substitutes Douglas James-Taylor and Timmy Abraham to keep the score down.