FC Halifax Town: Defender Josh revelling in his new found utility role

Josh Wilde v Gateshead. Picture: Gateshead FC
Josh Wilde v Gateshead. Picture: Gateshead FC

It’s no wonder Josh Wilde has been dubbed Phil Neville by his Town team-mates.

Billy Heath may refer to the full-back as Halifax’s Denis Irwin due to his consistent level of performance, but the Town defender’s adaptability this season has earned him comparisons in the changing room with the other former Manchester United defender.

“We were laughing about it at Gateshead and the lads were saying me and Macca (Scott McManus) are like the Neville brothers! They were all calling me Phil Neville!

“I played three positions on Monday - it’s madness!” joked Wilde after Monday’s draw in the north-east.

But it has been a case of needs must for Heath, with injuries already depriving him of defenders Cliff Moyo, Michael Duckworth, Nathan Hotte and Scott Garner at various points so far this season.

However, only Gateshead have conceded fewer goals in the National League than Halifax’s four.

“Billy has worked with us defensively from day one but it’s also down to the lads bonding and the camaraderie, everyone wants to win,” Wilde said.

“We’ve got a lot of winners in the team. They’re not here for the money or the jolly-up. I think that’s what’s making us a tough team at the minute because we’re working so hard when we haven’t got the ball.

“That’s what it’s like - if you have one lapse of concentration in this league you get punished. Last season you could perhaps get away with it but if you do not follow your man, it’s in the back of the net.

“The amount of corners that Dents (Tom Denton) gets away - it’s everybody contributing. If one person lets you down then you may as well have 10-men on the pitch.

“But everybody’s pushing in the right direction and wanting to win. That comes from Bill, he doesn’t accept anybody who doesn’t work hard enough.

“If you don’t he’ll bring you off, it’s as simple as that. He’s brought in winners and we had winners here already.”

Wilde played 53 games for The Shaymen last season, scoring three goals, but faces renewed competition for his left-back spot from Scott McManus, who is now fully fit after missing most of last season with a cruciate ligament injury.

“I know it’s a long season and I know there’ll be times when I’m not playing and Macca is, but there’s no malice in it, I just want us to win,” Wilde said.

“When he was injured last season you do take your foot off the gas occasionally. But when you’ve got somebody there constantly you need to be on it because you know if you make one mistake you could lose your place, and who knows how long you could be out of the team for.

“If he comes in and does well I don’t want Bill to take him out. It’s up to me to get back in then.

“It’s good having competition and we’ve got that throughout the team.

“It’s a horrible injury to have and you don’t wish that on your worst enemy.

“He’s not having any problems with his knee, which is good.

“All the lads are delighted for him. He’s been here for years and all the fans love him.”

Wilde has been encouraged by Halifax’s start to the season, with Heath’s side keeping five clean sheets in seven games and only losing two of their first seven outings.

“It’s been tough but I think we’ve done well,” he added. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is fitness - we’re part-time so a lot of lads have got jobs as well as playing so it is tough to balance that.

“But I think we’re getting more into it and it is improving.

“Other than Aldershot there’s no-one I’ve seen who I’ve been massively impressed by. I think we could be up there - there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be.

“I think we’ve looked more than capable of beating teams. At Gateshead we should have won, we had some great chances, but we were a bit unlucky.

“Defensively as a team we’ve been absolutely class. I think we’re second best in the league for that and I can’t see that changing.

“I said last season if we kept a similar defence there was no reason why we couldn’t keep clean sheets in a higher league. There’s not that much difference.

“At the minute our finishing is letting us down a bit but we’ve been unlucky. Kosylo’s strike at Gateshead was quality, then Morgan’s hit the crossbar.

“Even when we went down to 10-men I said to the lads ‘I can’t see us losing it, if anything we’re going to get them on the counter’.

“We need to be realistic. It is a tough league with lots of full-time teams.”

“But there’s no reason why we should fear anybody. We need to keep doing what we’re doing.”