A SCOTLAND win over a redoubtable football nation like the Czech Republic away from home would ordinarily result in widespread rejoicing among their supporters.

Particularly one that extended an unbeaten run to five games with a match of huge importance looming just weeks away.

Yet, this narrow, unconvincing and fortuitous triumph over significantly weakened rivals who had been hastily cobbled together in unusual circumstances had exactly the opposite effect.

Followers of the national team will hold out little hope of Steve Clarke’s men overcoming Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final, never mind Norway or Serbia in the final, and ending their interminable wait to qualify for a major tournament after watching this disjointed and depressing display.

There were some positives for Clarke to take from the 90 minutes in the Andruv Stadium. His side fought back to win their second Nations League game and move to the top of Group B2. Lyndon Dykes, too, performed well up front and claimed his first international goal in just his second appearance for his country.

There was, though, more cause for concern than optimism. Only an exceptional individual display by David Marshall, who pulled off three important saves, in goals ensured they prevailed. There will need to be a dramatic improvement the next time they take to the field next month or their hopes of taking their place alongside the continent’s elite next summer will be over.

The manager, as he had promised, made a few changes to his side. Out went Kieran Tierney, James Forrest, Ryan Jack, Callum McGregor and John McGinn, in came Liam Cooper, Liam Palmer, John Fleck, Stuart Armstrong and Kenny McLean.

He continued, though, his experiment with the 3-5-2 formation he had tried for the first time in the 1-1 draw with Israel at Hampden on Friday night. Cooper joined Scott McKenna and Scott McTominay in defence and Andy Robertson and Palmer were deployed as wing backs.

The new-look Scotland side appeared as uncomfortable with the set-up in Olomouc as they had in Glasgow when the game kicked off. They struggled to get out of their own half, were cut open with ease at the back and conceded the opener after just 11 minutes.

The hosts comprised youngsters and journeymen professionals from the Czech top flight after the entire first choice squad was forced into quarantine as the result of positive coronavirus tests in the build-up to their match against Slovakia in Bratislava last week.

There were just two capped players in the Czech side, Roman Hubnik, the veteran Sigma centre half, and Stanislav Tecl, the Slavia striker.

David Holoubek, an out-of-work coach, also took over from Jaroslav Silhavy in the dugout. But his charges took the lead after McLean had carelessly given away possession with an underhit pass to Robertson on the left flank.

Right back Tomas Holes pounced and fed Tecl inside him. The forward threaded a pass between McKenna and McTominay to Jakub Pesek. Palmer was posted missing and failed to alert his team mates to the danger being posed by the advancing winger.

The debutant had the simplest of tasks to control the ball and dink past the cruelling exposed Marshall. It was the worst possible start for the national team and raised fears a heavy and humiliating defeat lay in store.

McTominay, who gifted the Czechs a free-kick in the second-half with a clumsy foul on Tecl which Marek Havlik hit the post with, must be restored to the centre of the park and a 4-2-3-1 set-up reintroduced.

But it wasn’t just the Scotland rearguard which failed to function. The midfield was guilty of standing off their rivals and giving them too much time to steady themselves for shots. Pesek and Adam Janos both went close with fine long-range attempts in the first-half. They were only denied by outstanding one-handed saves from Marshall.

The visitors did respond well to falling behind and should perhaps have restored parity when Palmer flashed a delivery across the Czech six yard box in the 24th minute. They levelled with an identical move soon afterwards.

Dykes stole in front of Hubnik and Jemelka, stretched out his left leg and fired a first-time shot beyond Ales Mandous and high into the roof of the net. It was a classic striker’s goal and provided further evidence the scorer has much to offer his adopted homeland.

Scotland, no doubt after a few choice words from Clarke in the dressing room, started the second-half far better. Christie was unfortunate that Hubnik blocked his powerful goal-bound attempt after he had got on the end of a Robertson cut back.

But the playmaker converted a penalty which his captain won moments later. The left back was bundled over by Tomas Malinsky and Dutch referee Serdar Gözübüyük rightly pointed to the spot. Christie slotted into the bottom right corner. It was his third international goal in four games.

Scotland players celebrated that strike, but there were no cheers at the final whistle.