Bohemians 1905 versus FK Příbram. In his second column from Prague, ex-pat David Toms updates us on the fortunes of his adopted club in a new city, but not before seeking out a decent pre-match taste of home.
In The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s later works, Bohemia – which corresponds roughly with modern-day Czech Republic – was famously given a coastline. This despite the fact that the Czech Republic is (and always has been) landlocked. One of the problems of being from Ireland and living in a landlocked country is the lack of a sea. This is difficult for two reasons: first of all, having grown up not ten minutes drive from beaches in Waterford, to not have the sea in the summer is agony. The nearest beach for me is in Croatia. The other killer is a lack of fresh seafood.
The Czech Republic is not renowned for the quality of its seafood. With most fish coming from fresh water sources – carp is something of a Czech specialty – the rest tends to be frozen and to have come from a long way away. Some days, all you want in the world is fish and chips. This weekend, before going to see Bohemians take on FK Příbram, struggling with a slight hangover, I decided it was finally time to get myself some. There is at least one establishment in Prague, aptly enough called Ryby and Chips, which serves fish and chips that if not exactly the equal of what you’d get at home, is as good an effort as I’m likely to get within a few hundred miles.
And so having stocked up, and having had the hair of the dog, myself and my mate took ourselves along to Ďolíček in good time for kick-off. Another reason I’ve been missing the sea lately is that for two weeks solid, the weather in Prague has been between 35-40 degrees Celsius. Luckily, this Saturday it was a much cooler low to mid 20s for the match – warm but not unbearable. I am sure that the footballers of the Czech Republic were doubly happy.
Despite being much further up the table than Bohemians, Příbram looked the weaker side in the opening half hour of this game. Bohemians were undoubtedly still on a high from their lucky escape the previou weekend when they took a point away from DUKLA Prague. Trailing for most of the match, they managed to secure their point with a 2-2 scoreline when goalkeeper Zdenik Zlámal scored a header in the 89th minute. The boost in confidence this gave them was on display on Saturday evening against Příbram. There was plenty of positive, attacking play from Bohemians and they got their reward early on. In the 17th minute, Tomaš Bartek headed the ball into the right-hand side of the net following a cross into the box from Schick. I missed the goal, having been sent by my two mates to get a round in at the beer stand. Typical. There were plenty more openings for Bohemians in the first half, but they lacked any clinical finishing power up front. This is something you suspect will hamper them for the season.
In the second half, Příbram, no doubt feeling lucky to have gone in at the break just one-nil down, came out in attacking form and began asking questions of the Bohemians defence. As the half progressed, led by former Hearts, West Brom, and Leicester forward Roman Bednař – currently on loan to Příbram from Sparta Prague – the away team were suddenly beginning to poke holes. Then on the 67th minute, Bednař found the net to bring the game level. In truth, the goal was a cheap one and in no small part the fault of goalkeeper Zlámal. The blame didn’t just lie with him, though. Centre-back Aleš Škerle dealt poorly with the initial cross, his attempted header away connecting poorly, driving the ball into the ground and then into Bednař’s feet who took his chance well.
There followed little in the way of significant chances for the boys in green and white, despite the best of efforts of playmaker Patrik Schick, who put in an excellent performance throughout the game. He showed great vision and some serious on-the-ball skills, especially when doing a 360° turn on the ‘D’ of the Příbram box in the first half before laying the ball off coolly to a teammate. The signs then in this fourth game of the season were largely positive but a lack of finishing prowess, coupled with a moment of defensive laziness, prevented Bohemians from getting the three points in the late August sunshine. We finished our pints, shuffled out of the ground and went up the road to Krymská for a post-match beer and rant in Café V Lese. Draws can be bitter affairs. But I could still taste the vinegar from my chips.
Main image: @bohemians1905