VIDEO: Czech mate at Bishop's
Friday, 26 August, 2011
Czech goalkeeper excels himself as visitors defeat England.
by Glenn Lavery at Woodside Park
Click here to watch video highlights courtesy of FATV
Czech Republic goalkeeper Radim Jehlicka produced a man-of-the-match performance to deny England what could have been a very comfortable victory in the second match of The FA International U17 Tournament.
Instead of a second win in three days, following the 1-0 triumph over Italy on Wednesday, John Peacock’s young side were left to rue an improbable defeat as Luca Kurusta’s 52nd-minute goal was enough to give the Czechs their first three points of the Tournament. The winger collected a Martin Bzirsky pass just outside the England box, burst forward and swept the ball beyond Tom King and into the far corner.
England were the better side for large portions of the game and they created a host of chances, many of which were repelled by the excellent Jehlicka. Substitute Chuba Akpom was himself denied three times in the second half and Devante Cole, Jack Jebb and Callum Robinson also endured a frustrating evening at the hands of the Czech stopper.
Peacock always likes to give the whole squad of 18 sufficient game time in this annual Tournament and he made seven changes to the side that started against Italy, with only Leo Chambers, Luke Shaw, Austin Lipman and Jordan Graham retaining their place in the side.
A stop-start opening period only came to life with the award of a Czech Republic penalty on seven minutes. A loose ball across the defence put skipper Ryan Inniss in trouble and in an attempt to salvage the situation his centre-back partner Chambers was adjudged to have barged Dominik Masek to the ground inside the box. Referee Phil Gibbs pointed to the spot, Masek picked himself up to take the kick, but luckily for England he put it wide of King’s right-hand upright.
Inniss had England’s two best chances of the opening period, both headers. His first came from Kieran Wallace’s corner after Lipman’s shot was blocked by Jan Vondra and his second drifted wide from Wallace’s deep free-kick.
Some neat build-up play down the right led to Callum Robinson neatly turning and shooting after 15 minutes, but it was deflected behind by Lukas Hulka. Then it was the turn of Graham to take centre stage when he collected Ben Pearson’s pass out to the left, cut inside and forced Jehlicka into a fine save at his near post, the first of many he would make. England were building momentum and they came within a goalkeeper’s trailing leg of taking the lead. Robinson evaded the attention of Ondrej Sevcik on the left-hand by-line and pulled the ball back for the on-rushing Lipman. The Arsenal youngster met the ball true. The whole crowd thought it was in, but Jehlicka’s stuck his leg out and diverted the ball to safety.
The visitors were not to be completely outdone, though, and Hulka climbed highest at the back post to meet Masek’s deep cross, but he could only head over the bar. That was the first in a series of opportunities for both sides as the first half really began to get going. England regained control soon after and carved out another great chance. Robinson hassled Jehlicka into producing a poor goal kick, which landed on the Wallace’s chest. The Forest midfielder controlled the ball instantly and slipped Robinson through on goal in a central position. The forward tried to find the bottom corner but dragged his shot wide. He had another attempt just minutes later, from Graham’s cross but he could only side-foot the ball into the ‘keeper’s arms.
The England ‘keeper had not had much to do to this point, but he showed his powers of concentration when Martin Bzirsky curled a delicious effort goalwards. The Palace stopper dived to his left to claw the ball away. An entertaining half of football was brought to a close when John Swift nudged Wallace’s corner just wide of the far post after Jehlicka fumbled.
Three half-time substitutions for England saw Jordan Houghton, Akpom and Cole, who scored the only goal of the game against Italy, replace Shaw, Pearson and Lipman respectively. But it was Wallace and Robinson who again combined in an attempt to breach the Czech rearguard ten minutes after the restart but Robinson could only head the former’s cross wide. The miss was to prove costly, as Peacock’s charges fell behind just two minutes later.
Bzirsky fed a through ball to Kurusta and the winger took it in his stride before stroking beyond King and into the bottom corner. The goal lifted the Czechs and they then enjoyed a good spell of possession. They might have even doubled their led when Bzirsky latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the England box. King had no chance with the fiercely struck shot but it cannoned back off the upright, much to the relief of everyone in white.
As the game wore on, England increasingly forced the Czechs on the back foot in search of an equaliser and a neat passing move involving Houghton, Chambers, Cole, Jebb, another substitute, and Wallace led to a half chance for Akpom, but he was well marshalled by Hulka. The Arsenal youngster had a better crack at goal when he held off Stefan Simic, but his shot on the turn was straight at Jehlicka.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, the Czech ‘keeper excelled himself yet again to deny Akpom for a second time. Smart footwork saw the Gunner evade Sevcik on the 18-yard line and he raced into the box to fire a ferocious shot at goal, but Jehlicka tipped the ball around the post brilliantly. And that wasn’t the end of his antics. He also palmed a Jebb free-kick away for a corner and used his legs to block Cole’s angled drive late on. Cole also had the final real chance of the game when he headed Wallace’s in-swinging free-kick into the side netting.
England have the chance to rectify this defeat in their final match of the Tournament, against Portugal on Sunday.