Glenn Hoddle lost many of his regular first team players in this friendly fixture at Wembley due to injury however, those who were eligable to play put on a valid performance and brought smiles back to the supporters after last month's seemingly disappointing result in the European Championship Qualifying Round against Luxembourg. The result was not shabby either with goals coming from Darren Anderton and old-timer Paul Merson against a team who have not lost in their last ten matches.
With Seaman, Adams, Ince, Shearer and Owen all missing from action, England brought in Nigel Martyn, Nicky Butt, Rio Ferdinand, Dion Dublin and former Arsenal team-mates: Paul Merson and Ian Wright. All performed well but probably not enough to push any of the regulars out of their place in the team.
The game was three minutes old when the Czech Republic were almost gifted a goal. Anderton couldn't control a cross and the ball fell to the feet of Latal, Nigel Martyn was there in goal to produce the save. England begun to warm-up when Rio Ferdinand made a 50-yard run down the field passed three defenders but his efforts did not pay off when his cross to Merson went wide of the player. It was encouraging to see the home side spring into action. Dublin went close to getting the opening goal two minutes later, but Anderton's cross was volleyed over the bar by the Mancheser United player.
A minute later Vladimir Smicer sprinted through England's defence to connect with Kuka. England were lucky when the bar saved their blushes after Kuka beat Martyn. The Czech's were showing how they had achieved their good record over the last few months.
The deadlock was broken after 22 minutes. David Beckham started off the movement which resulted in the goal. He played the ball to Le Saux who passed to Wright. The West Ham United player then beat his marker to cross the ball to Anderton who struck the ball from 15 yards out to give England the lead.
From this point England gained in confidence as they pushed towards another goal. England had a number of promising attacks before going two goals up and were claiming a penalty when Ian Wright was taken down in the penalty area but the referee waved for play to continue. The second goal came courtesy of Paul Merson, who also started the attacking move. Wright made the cross to Dublin, who knocked the ball on to Merson, who put the ball passed Kouba and into the net. England now had a good lead but not enough to sit back and relax. They were on the prowl again through Beckham just before half-time but his shot went wide of the Czech's goal.
During the interval the Czech Republic made four substitutions. Lokvenc, Baranek, Kotulek and Vonasek were replaced by Repka, Smicer, Nemec and Latal. Upon looking at the score-line they made no impact on the game. England continued to apply pressure at the start of the first half. Le Saux had a short range effort but it was saved by Kouba. The Czech Republic did have their chances though and came close with Lokvenc but his first volley went over the bar and his next shot was put over by Martyn.
With 20 minutes remaining England brought on Robbie Fowler in place of Ian Wright. It was Fowler's first international match since November last year. England also made another change with Lee Hendrie making his debut six minutes later to replace Paul Merson. Fowler almost has a hand in a possible 3rd goal but Le Saux's shot was high and wide. And Hendrie almost crowned his first appearance with a fantastic goal after Le Saux put him clear but the final touch sent the ball inches wide of the goal.
The Czech's kept the pressure up right to the final whistle when Baranek made Martyn save England from losing their clean sheet when he cleared the ball to conceed a corner.
England management will have been far happier with this result. They now have break until next year from international duty and time to get their squad back to full
Martyn, Campbell, Keown, R Ferdinand, Le Saux, Butt, Beckham, Anderton, Dublin, I Wright (Fowler 70 mins), Merson (Hendrie 76 mins).
Subs Not Used: Southgate, G Neville, Batty, Redknapp, R Wright.
Kouba, Latal (Baranek 45 mins), Votava, Nototny (Lokvenc 45 mins), Repka, Berger, Nemec (Vonasek 45 mins), Poborsky, Kuka (Sloncik 73 mins), Smicer (Kotulek 45 mins), Bejbl.
Sub Not Used: Kozel, Maier.
England Scorers: Anderton (22 mins), Merson (39 mins)
Referee: U Meier (Switzerland)