Pre-Season | AFC Wimbledon 3-2 Watford

Second-half goals from Ben Watson and Steven Berghuis nearly ensured Watford fought back from a two-goal deficit, but a last-minute AFC Wimbledon winner denied them a share of the spoils.

In the Hornets’ first pre-season friendly under new Head Coach Marco Silva, what had so far been a drab encounter sparked into life at the start of the second-half with the Dons racing into a two-goal lead.

Cody McDonald goals on 46 and 49 minutes left Watford with a mountain to climb, but the Hornets responded well and found a way back into the game courtesy of Watson, who converted a Jose Holebas cross first-time from inside the box just before the hour.

Fresh from a successful loan at Feyenoord last season, Berghuis finished well from Brice Dja Djédjé’s cross and it was all-square at the Cherry Red Records Stadium going into the final 10.

It remained that way right up until the final minute, when substitute Alfie Egan settled affairs from close-range, handing the Dons a 3-2 victory.

Silva opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Abdoulaye Doucouré and Watson the holding midfielders.

Berghuis, Etienne Capoue and Isaac Success were tasked with supporting front-man Stefano Okaka.

There was an early chance for Capoue, who lofted a right-footed shot onto the roof of the net after Doucouré’s breakaway in the third minute.

The Dons went even closer with little over quarter-of-an-hour played, Lyle Taylor heading against the far post from a George Francomb corner.

With half-an-hour on the clock, Miguel Britos peeled off at the back post to meet Watson’s corner and draw a good reflex save from George Long with the header.

The Dons’ keeper was in fine form twice more shortly after, denying Okaka’s hooked effort from point-blank range before tipping wide a 25-yard Holebas free-kick.

It was goalless at the break, but within minutes of the restart Watford found themselves two behind.

First McDonald converted Taylor’s right-flank cross from close-range in the first minute of the second-half, and then the striker added a second from Andy Barcham’s centre with 49 minutes played.

There was no let-up in what was proving to be an entertaining start to the second-half, and Watford struck back through Watson. The midfielder fired home first-time after Holebas’ cross from the left-hand side with 57 minutes played.

Capoue nearly provided the equaliser a minute later, slamming just wide after a nice touch and cross from Berghuis.

The Hornets’ leveller did arrive with 77 minutes gone, substitute Dja Djédjé crossing for Berghuis, who neatly side-footed past Long and into the bottom corner.

The Golden Boys had certainly been on the front-foot for large periods of the second-half, but there was a late blow as Wimbledon sub Egan slotted home a last-minute winner from close-range.

There was still time for the injury-time introduction of Watford's first-year scholar Lewis Gordon, who replaced Berghuis from the bench. A moment that will live long in the 16-year-old’s memory.

HORNETS: Gomes (GK) (c) (Bachmann, 61); Janmaat (Dja Djédjé, HT), Prödl, Britos (Kabasele, HT), Holebas; Watson, Doucouré; Berghuis (Gordon, 90), Capoue (Folivi, 85), Success (Amrabat, HT); Okaka.
Sub not used: Rowan.

DONS: Long (GK), Fuller (c), Kennedy, Robinson, Oshilaja, Esseboom, Maloney, Francomb, Taylor, McDonald, Barcham.
Subs: McDonnell (GK), Sibbick, Nightingale, Kalambayi, Owens, Parrett, Egan, Hartigan, Kaja, Appiah, Antwi.

Attendance: 2,101 (624 Watford)

First Team 14/07/2017

Chalobah | Exclusive First Interview

Walking into the Hornets' London Colney Training Ground was a very different experience second time around for Nathaniel Chalobah. 

Highly rated, fresh-faced and just 17-years-old when he arrived in 2012, the Chelsea loanee came without so much as a first-team notch on his belt, to a club that was itself venturing into a new era.

A Premier League winner rolled through the UCL gates on Thursday night to sign a five-year deal.

The 22-year-old's journey since his 42-game breakthrough season with the Hornets has seen him take in experiences both rewarding and hardening, giving him the grounding, he says, to further his career at Vicarage Road. 

“I think since my first time here, I tried to go forward and improve within myself,” he explained exclusively to watfordfc.com.  

“I've had some good loans, some bad loans. Last year for me was a year I'll never forget, in terms of winning the league, but also with a manager who gave me an opportunity.

“But that's in the past now isn't it really? In football, people only remember the last thing you did. I want to focus on what's now, here at Watford.”

You can watch the full interview above (free, no sign-up required) in which Chalobah talks in detail about his reasons for leaving Chelsea, admiration for his new Head Coach and his international ambition.