13 November 2019 00:33

Scott Wisemantel England national rugby union team England

Czech Republic 2 England 3 "I didn't think the result was in any doubt," Phil Neville said afterwards, Leah Williamson's 86th-minute winner against Czech Republic supposedly a sure-thing in the mind of the England coach. But the reality is that it was a now-familiar display from the Lionesses, where they played into interceptions and conceded easily, in a 3-2 win against a team that in no way should have matched them, but very nearly did. It ends a year in which England have fallen from World Cup semi-finalists to struggling against relative minnows, with this second win in their last eight games in no way solving their mounting problems. From the heights of 77,768 at Wembley at the weekend, England have spent three days being thrust back down to earth. First by that heart-breaking stoppage-time loss to Germany in front of a record-breaking crowd.

Pressure mounts on England manager Phil Neville after stuttering victory over Czech Republic

Then by Neville, who conceded "we're not one of the best teams in the world" on the eve of their away tie to the Czechs last night. Afterwards by arriving to bleak heavy snowfall at the Stadion Strelecky Ostrov, with a crowd of just a few hundred fans there to watch them. "We need a jolt," Neville had said ahead of the side's final match of the year, and the Czech team gave them two in the form of a brace of goals from Tereza Szewieczkova. Yet still the Lionesses could not muster enough answers to deliver a dominant performance despite the eventual victory, which both they and their manager so desperately needed.