Northern Ireland U19s lost 2-0 against Czech Republic U19s this afternoon in their second game in the qualifying round for the next U19 Euros.
After losing their first match in the Group 13 four-team mini tournament - 2-0 v Denmark - they were keen to make amends against the host nation in Frydek-Mistek.
But they came up against a strong Czech side who just had a bit too much power and craft for them.
Gerard Lyttle’s side had plenty of the ball during the 90 minutes, however their passing in the final third was not as sharp as it could have been.
Lyttle made six changes to the team that started against the Danes with Dale Taylor (captain), Euan Williams, Dane McCullough, Isaac Price, Brodie Gilmore and Lewis Mackinnon all coming in.
The hosts, who defeated Kazakhstan 3-0 in their first group match, started brightly at the Stovky stadium and the Northern Ireland defence were kept busy in the opening stages, with Shea Charles in particular covering plenty of ground to repel their attacks.
Matej Hadas fired in a shot after five minutes which just missed the target, however Czech Republic opened the scoring on 22 minutes. Denis Visinsky cut in down the left, slipping past his marker, and sent a low cross into the box where Hadas was on hand to stab the ball home.
Seven minutes later Northern Ireland captain Taylor had a shot blocked and cleared.
Visinsky jinked his way past a couple of defenders before firing in a low cross-shot which drifted wide of the far post.
Midfielder Price picked up a loose ball and threaded a neat pass to striker Ross McCausland down the left, however his low drive from distance was comfortably gathered by Czech keeper Antonin Kinsky.
In the 39th minute Northern Ireland stopper Josh Clarke made an excellent double save. He pushed away a Visinsky effort and then turned a Lukas Masek shot around the post.
Taylor had a shot blocked before Kinsky saved a Sean McAllister piledriver and then palmed away a McCausland effort.
Early in the second half McCausland scooped a shot wide from close range after the home defence failed to clear a McCullough corner.
Minutes later the Czechs went 2-0 up. Jakub Drozd floated a free-kick into the area and defender Dalibor Vecerka rose highest to nod the ball into the top corner.
Midfielder Filip Urica fired over the top when well placed before Kinsky saved another McAllister drive and McCausland had another shot blocked.
Substitute Conor Falls missed the target, while fellow sub Charlie Lindsay’s lofted effort was easily collected by Kinsky as the game drew to a close.
Afterwards Gerard Lyttle said: "We pressed them brilliantly in the areas we thought we would get a bit of success in.
"We have played two top nations in Denmark and Czech Republic and we’ve matched them man for man all over the pitch and had the better chances. We played on the front foot and were brave in possession.
"This is how I want us to play going forward. On another day with a little more luck in front of goal over the last two games we at the very least come away with two draws and maybe a win in one of them.
"Make silly mistakes at this level and you get punished and that’s what has happened today and on Wednesday. When we learn to cut them out we will have better results. As a group we will prepare robustly for the final game."
The result means the U19s cannot qualify for the elite round of the U19 Euro Slovakia 2022 qualifiers next spring.
The U19s’ final game in the qualifying round - against Kazakhstan - is being staged at the Bazaly stadium in Ostrava on Tuesday (12 October) with a 2pm start UK time.
Northern Ireland U19s: Josh Clarke, Michael Forbes, Lewis Mackinnon, Shea Charles, Dane McCullough, Isaac Price, Sean McAllister, Brodie Gilmore, Ross McCausland, Dale Taylor (captain), Euan Williams. Substitutes: (used) Charlie Lindsay, Ciaran McGuckin, Conor Falls, Matty Carson, Charlie Allen; (unused) Dylan Berry (GK), Cameron Stewart, Caolan McBride, Oisin Conaty.
Czech Republic U19s: Antonin Kinsky, Matej Hadas, Patrik Vydra, Dalibor Vecerka, Daniel Kutik, David Jambor (captain), Jakub Drozd, Denis Visinsky, Lukas Masek, Filip Urica, Filip Vecheta. Substitutes: Tadeas Stoppen (GK), Denis Halinsky, Jachym Sip, Maxim Stropsa, Vojtech Stransky, Michal Cernak, Daniel Langhamer, Tomas Jedlicka, Daniel Samek.