Ex-Blackpool and non-league star Simon Wiles steers Fleetwood Town to derby day win
It was ex-Blackpool player Simon Wiles who orchestrated Fleetwood Town's U18 derby victory over the Seasiders.
New Fleetwood Town U18 boss Wiles saw Sam O’Halleron’s double fire his young guns to a 2-0 victory over Blackpool at Poolfoot Farm on Saturday.
The 33-year-old ex-midfielder came through the academy just down the road, so it was apt he was in charge to achieve something Town’s senior side have yet to do – beat Blackpool.
Blackpool youth product Wiles made 31 League appearances for the Seasiders between 2003-08, with two loan spells at Macclesfield before moving to Dunfermline Athletic.
A serious knee injury blighted that move and his spell at National League Barrow from 2010-13.
Wiles’ shift to non-league Chorley that summer coincided with a move into coaching at Blackpool.
But like others on the coaching ranks at Bloomfield Road, he would later make the shift to near neighbours Fleetwood’s academy.
And after further spells at Salford and Bamber Bridge, Wiles has turned his attentions to becoming Town’s full-time U18 coach.
The ex-midfielder hung up his boots at Brig and helped to orchestrate their promotion to the NPL Premier Division as Neil Reynolds’ assistant.
But this summer Wiles stepped down from that role to devote his time to his academy role at Town and managing the U18 side on a Saturday.
And he could not hide his delight after seeing his youngsters beat his old club.
Wiles said: “I’m delighted with the way the lads played. It was an interesting game for us because first half we were camped in a little bit. We were trying to play out but it wasn’t really happening.
“We set up to get the ball forward as early as we can, press as high as we can and eliminate any mistakes that could put them on the counter.
“Then second half our football came out. We played out of the back and through midfield, and our midfielders were much braver in the second half to get on the ball.
“I thought we created much more in the second half . We could have had more but Blackpool countered a couple of times and could have had a couple of goals to their name.
“Overall, second half I was really pleased. It was interesting to see the boys talk about managing the game out, which is a massive learning experience.
“They managed the game in the first half and we went 1-0 up. Sometimes you can get carried away and over-play, but we played it right in the second half.
“A big focus for us this week has been on the midfielders. Going into the second half, being brave and getting on the ball is great for their development and it was a good performance from all of them.”
O’Halleron was the hero for Town, and with Nathan Sheron becoming the first player from Town’s Category Three academy to feature in a Football League fixture, the future looks bright for Poolfoot’s thriving youth set-up.
Town’s U17 World Cup-winning keeper Billy Crellin trained with the first team this summer and has joined National League North club FC United on-loan.
Academy products Ged Garner, Harrison Holgate and Lewis Baines all featured for the first team in pre-season.
And if O’Halleron can keep getting the goals, the pathway to senior football is there for him to achieve.
That pathway is one Wiles took himself at Blackpool and he was full of praise for the derby hero.
He said: “I thought Sam thoroughly deserved his goals. His first goal was top-drawer.
“As he’s gone through, we’ve looked at it, saying, ‘Is he going to hit it?’ But he has another touch, draws in two defenders, drops his shoulder, gets half a yard and scores.
“That’s what Sam’s all about – in and around the box we fancy him all the time to get his goals.
“We’ve just got to make sure our build-up play and our playing through the thirds gives him the opportunity to take chances.”