Goal-machine Ben Mackey scored twice as Hemel Town fought back from behind on three occasions to beat a youthful Watford XI 4-3 in an entertaining pre-season clash at Vauxhall Road.
Benny Fiadzomer and Lewis Toomey were also on target for the Tudors in a decent display which will give them a timely boost ahead of Saturday’s Conference South curtain-raiser at Basingstoke Town.
It was the young Hornets who made the brighter start of the two teams and they had the chance to take the lead through a 10th minute penalty.
A shot from George Byers was adjudged to have been handled by Oliver Hawkins, but Josh Doherty’s weak effort was easily kept out by Hemel keeper Laurie Walker.
There were a couple of half-chances for either side as the game flowed from end to end, but it was Watford who broke the deadlock just before the quarter hour mark.
Hemel defender Danny May was caught in possession on the halfway line, and Michael Folivi raced through to slide the ball underneath Walker to put the visitors in front.
Buoyed by the goal, the Watford young guns looked to extend their advantage and Walker had to be on his toes twice to prevent Alex Jakubiak.
The away side were starting to get on top, but it was Hemel who struck next to level the scores in the 18th minute.
Fiadzomer received the ball on the corner of the penalty area before cutting inside and firing a fierce shot past Shaun Rowley into the bottom corner of the net.
The Hornets goalkeeper then produced two fine saves to keep out a volley from Mackey and a crisp hit from Dave Pearce, and those stops inspired his side to retake the lead.
It was a comedy of errors from the Tudors defence as they failed to clear the ball on a number of occasions, culminating in Hawkins’ attempt hitting a team-mate and breaking to Folivi.
The lively Watford striker was clean through but brought down by Walker, who could do nothing to prevent the youngster from making it 2-1 with the resulting penalty.
Keen to make up for their lapse at the back, Hemel responded well and were back on level terms again seven minutes later.
A lovely run and delivery from Dave Hutton was chested down by Mackey, who outmuscled his marker before lashing home into the top corner for 2-2.
There were still more goals to come before half-time, and a neat passing move resulted in a third goal for Watford as Jakubiak coolly slotted the ball past Walker.
The Tudors were not about to go into the interval trailing, however, and they restored parity for a third time through hit-man Mackey.
Neat footwork from James Simmonds allowed him room to cross the ball to the back post, and Mackey was on hand to apply the finishing touch with a composed volley.
There were plenty of changes for the Tudors at half-time as manager Dean Brennan gave all of his squad a run-out, and striker Lewis Toomey was immediately into the action.
The speedy forward was denied by Rowley and Hawkins could only send the rebound over the bar with the goal gaping.
Watford rarely threatened in the second half but Jakubiak came close. He blocked a clearance by Walker but couldn’t hook the ball into the net from a tight angle.
But it was Hemel who earned the win when Toomey stuck 13 minutes from time.
Jordan Parkes showed neat footwork to send Toomey clear in the penalty area, and he side-stepped his marker before placing his shot into the corner of the net to earn the victory for his side.