Ismaël Koné’s first goal in Watford colours was cancelled out by a second-half Marquinhos strike as the Hornets drew 1-1 with Arsenal in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Gunners’ training ground.

The fast-paced pre-season encounter saw both sides field strong teams, as Valérien Ismaël made four changes from Wednesday night’s goalless draw with Boreham Wood with Koné, Jeremy Ngakia, João Ferreira and Ken Sema coming into the starting XI.

A lively first-half saw the Golden Boys further implement their attacking philosophy, with Koné winning possession in the hosts’ defensive third for the opener.

Substitute Marquinhos’ leveller was a rebound from Amario Cozier-Duberry’s parried strike, ensuring honours were even in London Colney.

Gunners youngster Mauro Bandeira was the first to test goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, before Vakoun Bayo responded with a similarly threatening attempt at the other end for Arthur Okwonkwo to tip wide.

Turning out of a crowded box, Sema was next to attempt to hit the target, cutting onto his left foot and forcing another stop.

Reiss Nelson broke into the Hornets’ area and looked set to strike before Ryan Porteous slid in to prevent a shot, conceding a corner despite his protests that it had hit the winger before going out.

Driving forward to nip in ahead of Myles Lewis-Skelly, Koné won the ball high up the pitch and played in Matheus Martins, whose shot was saved only for the Canadian to lash home the rebound.

Arsenal made nine changes at the break - with the Hornets making five of their own - as the sides settled into a more even second period. Ryan Andrews made the earliest impact off the bench, bursting forward from right-back and delivering a good cross that deflected for a corner.

Cozier-Duberry, who netted two at Vicarage Road in last season’s FA Youth Cup, was a livewire once again and played a key role in Arsenal’s equaliser, driving at goal and curling a shot that was parried by Ben Hamer for Marquinhos to tap home.

Sub shot-stopper James Hillson was then called into action from a Watford corner to deny a towering header from Mattie Pollock.

Arsenal enjoyed a spell of control in the latter stages but failed to capitalise, with Cozier-Duberry going closest from the right flank.

Ismaël’s charges continue their preparations for the new season next week on the training pitch, with a friendly against Crystal Palace also scheduled for Saturday July 22 (1pm KO).


Starting XI: Okonkwo (GK) (Hillson HT), White (Norton-Cuffy 60’), Magalhães (Walter HT), Jesus (C) (Biereth HT, Sagoe Jr. 76’), Nketiah (Marquinhos HT), Holding (Kirk 60’), Soares (Sousa HT), Trossard (Cozier-Duberry HT), Nelson (Nwaneri HT), Bandeira (Oulad-M’Hand HT), Lewis-Skelly (Henry-Francis HT)

Subs not used: Gower

Goal: Marquinhos (54’)


Starting XI: Bachmann (GK) (Hamer HT), Ngakia (Morris HT), Porteous (Pollock HT), Hoedt (Kabasele 55’), Ferreira (Andrews HT), Sierralta (Forde 55’), Louza (Trialist 55’), Koné (Dele-Bashiru HT), Martins (Baah 55’), Sema (C) (Kalu 55’), Bayo (Healey 55’)

Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Adeyemo

Goal: Koné (42’)

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