JAMES NORWOOD smashed in a 93rd-minute penalty as England C staged a late comeback for a fully deserved draw with Czech Republic Under-21s at Woking on Tuesday night.
It was a fitting reward for Non-League’s Three Lions who controlled large parts of the game and against ten men for much of the second-half.
But just when it looked like they would come away empty handed, Welling defender Fraser Franks scored in the 85th minute to set up a tense finale before Norwood kept his cool to convert from the spot with the last kick of the game.
The Czechs, featuring the highly-rated Chelsea defender Tomas Kalas, wasted little time in showing their attacking intent with a goal after just six minutes.
It came from a breathtakingly quick counter attack after England had almost scored themselves.
Persistence inside the box from Andre Gray saw the ball fall to James Armson but his shot was blocked. The visitors broke with devastating pace as Michael Krmencik scampered clear and fired past James Belshaw.
England came back immediately with Matty Pearson’s shot from distance saved by Jiri Pavlenka.
Despite falling behind the goal didn’t rattle the hosts and they soon settled into their rhythm.
Armson, excellent throughout, was influential in the centre of the park, while Elliott Frear was getting joy on the left.
But for all their play England were unable to carve out any clear chances – Keanu Marsh-Brown blazed a free-kick over and Pearson saw another shot blocked by his own team-mate.
Right before half-time they fell further behind. Krmencik laid in Lukas Stratil, who fired emphatically into the net.
Czech Republic went down to ten men eight minutes into the second-half after Adam Janos’ late challenge on Salisbury City’s Angus MacDonald.
Kingfield regular Josh Payne was introduced from the bench and he nearly pulled one back with a header from Elliott Frear’s cross that went wide.
Armson forced Pavlenka into a great save and Norwood twice went close before the comeback began.
First Franks headed in Frear’s free-kick before Salisbury’s Dan Fitchett was hauled down in the box.
And then Forest Green Rovers frontman Norwood stepped up to smash an equaliser into the top corner.
England C boss Paul Fairclough will have plenty to think about ahead of the start of their International Challenge Trophy in Slovakia next May.
England C: Belshaw (Walker 80), MacDonald, Turley (Parry 57), Franks, Demetriou (Fitzpatrick 71), Marsh-Brown (Lolley 57), Armson, Pearson (Payne 57), Frear, Gray (Fitchett 71), Norwood