City u18s made it a hattrick of pre-season victories with a 1-0 win away to Rhyl FC.
A now annual summer fixture between the two clubs pitted Jason Wilcox’s young Blues against an adult Rhyl team, and as a result it proved a closely fought contest, with Isaac Buckley’s second half strike the difference between the two teams at the final whistle.
A pair of high-scoring triumphs against Real Murcia and Elche while away in Spain meant that City travelled to Wales brimming with confidence, but this was a different test for a side featuring six first year scholars at kick off.
Will Patching, Ash Kigbu, Sadou Diallo, Jacob Davenport, Dumeaco Duhaney and Lewis Blackshaw all earned starting berths following impressive performances away on tour, while second years Zackarias Faour and Buckley led the attack from the front.
The u18 season kicks off at home to Liverpool in under two weeks, and Wilcox will have been pleased to see his youthful charges set out in a positive manner from the very first whistle, creating chances through the rhythm of crisp passing.
The first chance of the afternoon had already sailed over the bar before Buckley drew an excellent stop from keeper Askew on ten minutes after being set up by a perfectly-timed ball over the top from Diallo.
The hosts were content to try and do their damage on the counter and the approach came extremely close to fruition twice in succession – first Charlie Albinson had to be extremely alert to come out and rob the ball from the onrushing striker, while Butnhe should certainly have scored after 35 minutes but fired over from inside the six yard box with the goal gaping.
City heeded the warning and were unlucky not to make more of a fantastic cross from Duhaney within the next 60 seconds, but no one wearing blue could quite connect with the ball as it fizzed agonisingly across the face of goal.
However, shortly after the restart and Wilcox’s side got the goal their performance deserved when Buckley latched onto a pass from midfield and slotted coolly underneath the keeper to break the deadlock.
Rhyl might have equalised within minutes but the striker was unable to get his shot away and resulting appeals for a penalty were waived away by the referee.
Meanwhile, City continued to press the Rhyl goal, hungry to flex their attacking muscles and add a second goal to the board. Only a wonder save prevented the trialist from doubling the advantage, while Faour unleashed a powerful free kick from 30 yards that was not far over the bar.
Supporters who made the journey down to Rhyl on a wet Tuesday night were treated to an entertaining contest, with City’s boys working hard against opponents physically far more mature than themselves.
For their part, Rhyl fought hard right to the end and might have levelled but for another good stop from Albinson at the near post.
Wilcox will be delighted with the technical proficiency and work ethic demonstrated by his side, who have one more friendly against QPR on Saturday before the season kicks off at home to Liverpool on 8 August.
CITY: Albinson, Duhaney, Murray (Coveney 78), Kigbu (Bullock 63), Blackshaw, Davenport, Diallo, Patching (Hardy 78), Buckley, Trialist, Faour (Nmecha 72).