Brian Eastick's U19s left frustrated by a resolute Czech Republic.
England 0-0 Czech Republic
U19 International Friendly
7pm, Wednesday 25 March 2009
Banks's Stadium, Walsall FC England U19s were held to a draw in their final warm-up game ahead of May’s Elite Round qualifiers, as they just couldn’t find a way past a resolute Czech Republic team.
Brian Eastick’s side controlled the match from start to finish and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout, as well as hitting the woodwork twice in the second half in what was a fluent display, but the crucial goal proved elusive.
They also looked strong at the back, with Martin Kelly and Gavin Hoyte in the centre of defence ensuring that Jason Steele in goal had one of his quieter evenings but unfortunately for England, the visitors were in similar form at the other end.
The Young Lions, led out by Jack Rodwell in the absence of the injured Henri Lansbury, made a bright start to the game and controlled possession in the early stages.
There was little to show for it in terms of chances though, with a 25-yard effort from Nathan Delfouneso which went just over the bar proving the pick of the early action, following a neat turn and run from just inside the Czech half.
England then came closer in the 14th minute, when Kyle Walker’s cross from the right was totally missed by Czech goalkeeper Roman Vales, but was just a fraction too high for Danny Gosling to get his head onto it.
Gosling had another half-chance six minutes before the break, when Delfouneso latched onto a Rodwell pass on the left before squaring a ball across the area which the Everton midfielder didn’t quite connect with and shot wide of the post.
It was debutant Jonathan Obika who came the closest though, when he did well to turn his man in the area after more good work from Rodwell and Gosling, only to see his left-footer arrow narrowly wide of the target on the stroke of half-time.
That turned out to be Obika’s last contribution, as he was replaced by another debutant in Nile Ranger at half-time with England looking to find the breakthrough.
The visitors remained solid though and with just over an hour gone, it took a set-piece to almost open the scoring. Gosling was tripped just on the edge of the area for a free-kick, which Danny Drinkwater stepped up to take. The Manchester United man hit his shot firmly and it looked to have Vales beaten only to clip the bar and bounce over.
Drinkwater then tried his luck again in the 69th minute, shooting left-footed from outside the area with his effort narrowly off target again.
The visitors had their best chance after 77 minutes, when a corner from the right found its way to Milan Nitriansky, but he slipped as he tried to shoot and a combination of Steele and Drinkwater were on the line to save any danger.
At the other end, Delfouneso forced Vales into a save with his feet after working some space to place an angled shot at goal, but the Young Lions still couldn’t discover that vital cutting edge.
With five minutes left on the clock, England were denied by a post when Ranger’s low shot bounced back out to safety, before Delfouneso hit the rebound over the bar under pressure from at least two Czech defenders.
That proved to be the last of the chances though and England now look towards May and their bid to qualify for the finals of the European Championship.The Teams
1 Jason Steele, 2 Kyle Walker, 3 Joe Mattock (16 Aidan White, 73), 4 Jack Rodwell (c), 5 Gavin Hoyte, 6 Martin Kelly, 7 Jordan Henderson (14 Andrew Tutte, 80), 8 Daniel Drinkwater, 9 Nathan Delfouneso, 10 Jonathan Obika (15 Nile Ranger, 46), 11 Daniel Gosling.Substitutes not used:
12 Jordan Spence, 13 Alex Smithies, 17 James Wallace.Czech Republic
16 Roman Vales, 2 Jan Mudra (15 Jan Navratil, 46) 4 Martin Sus, 5 Josef Husbauer, 7 Lukas Hejda (6 Lukas Novy, 72) 8 Zdenek Folprecht (14 Lukas Motal, 69) 10 Josef Sural ©, 12 Filip Noval, 13 Milan Misun, 17 Milan Nitrianski (11 Dominik Kraut, 85) 18 Jakub Petr (9 Martin Dolezal, 46)Substitutes not used:
1 Vaclav Hladky, 3 Jan Matras.Officials
Darren England & Paul Tierney