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)