A youthful Manchester City side came to Rhyl Football Club for a pre season friendly and came out narrow winners in a game which technically was men against boys though you would not have thought so on the performance.
Manchester City Under 18’s Boss Jason Wilcox, who enjoyed a glittering career which included winning the English Premier League with Blackburn Rovers in 1995 and also represented England, has a side which was well drilled and full of promising talent.
Three standout players on the evening were Goalkeeper Charlie Albinson and forwards Brahim Abdelkader Diaz and Isaac Buckley who scored the decisive goal with a clinical finish.
Quoted by some as the next Lionel Messi, City paid £300,000 up front for Diaz when he was just 14 years old from Malaga, with the final deal worth £2.4million depending on what he achieves at the club.
Luis Suarez’s agent Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep, had been involved in the negotiations about a player who is touted to be worth between £30m-£40m once he develops and he showed plenty of promise.
Goalkeeper Charlie Albinson was awarded a two year scholarship by the City Academy in July 2013 after proving his worth through the age groups.
A Bolton boy, the young stopper was cool under pressure and seemed particularly strong when facing a striker one on one and coming for crosses, using his technique and agility to quickly smother the danger.
The 17-year-old is always looking to build attacks from the back with short passes out of defence, and cites City no.1 Joe Hart as one of his biggest role models.
Charlie made his u18 league debut for Man City last October, keeping a clean sheet against Southampton, and was involved in the u19 UEFA Youth League squad in the latter stages of the competition last term.
After joining the City Academy as a 13-year-old, striker Isaac Buckley impressed through the age groups and was offered a two year scholarship at the club in July 2014.
An excellent season for City u16s last season was rewarded with an u18s debut in May against Newcastle, when he acquitted himself well against more mature opposition as part of a team that lifted the Premier League North Division title.
With a strength that belies his slight frame, Isaac held the ball up well and his pace made him a valuable asset to the u18s on the evening. He proved to have an eye for goal with a well placed shot into the bottom corner in the second half which won the game. Isaac made his debut in a City shirt at right back against Sunderland, when he scored his first goal for the club.
Overall the game was a good run out for both sides with Rhyl continuing their pre season preparation against Telford next at home and then another glamour tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers next week. Gareth Owen, Rhyl Manager, can be proud of his team’s work ethic and the signs are looking good for the upcoming season.