Marco Silva’s reign as head coach has got off to a losing start after Watford were beaten 3-2 at AFC Wimbledon in their first senior pre-season friendly.

Watford were the better side in the first half, showing some encouraging variety and pace to their attacking play. Indeed, had the quality of their finishing been better and goalkeeper George Long not been in good form, the Hornets could have been at least a goal to the good at the break.

But instead of being in front, the visitors were to find themselves 2-0 down within four minutes of the restart as Cody McDonald scored a quick-fire brace, the second coming after some poor defending by the visitors.

The visitors had dug themselves into something of a hole, but Ben Watson halved the deficit with a confident finish after been picked out by Jose Holebas.

Many Hornets’ fans eyes would have been on Steven Berghuis and the winger showed what he is capable of at times, before scoring the equaliser when he converted a cut back by Brice Dja Djedje.

But the visitors did not impress defensively after the break and they were to be punished again shortly before the end when Alfie Egan scored the winner.

Jerome Sinclair had been due to start for the Hornets but a late change saw him replaced by Isaac Success shortly before kick-off. The former Liverpool man took no part in the proceedings and spent the duration of the game watching on alongside new signing Nathaniel Chalobah.

The Hornets started positively and had the first chance on the counter-attack when a Dons attack broke down and Abdoulaye Doucoure led the charge forward, feeding Etienne Capoue to his right as the visitors broke into the area; he went for a lob but put it onto the roof of the net.

Berghuis had the next opportunity; receiving the ball on the right, he opted to play a give-and-go with Watson as he came inside, only to hit a left-footed shot wildly high and wide of the target.

It was evident from the early stages how the Hornets will try and operate under Silva, playing a possession-based game and looking to attack with pace and varying their play when possible.

Neal Ardley’s side also made a lively start though, and had their first chance when Andy Barcham cut inside from right to left before lifting a shot over Heurelho Gomes’ bar.

Miguel Britos then needed to stretch to cut out a dangerous cut-back from McDonald, before the Dons were inches away from taking the lead when George Francomb’s clipped in a cross from the left and Barry Fuller flicked it on, only to see the ball rebound to safety off the far post with Gomes beaten.

Having survived that left off though, the Hornets should have done better when Holebas got round the back and lifted the ball into the danger zone, but Doucoure got his bearings all wrong and sent his header back in the direction it came.

The game then went through a stop-start period of little goalmouth action until the 28th minute when Capoue flashed a left-footed half-volley wide from the edge of the area after a free-kick had been partially cleared.

Watford continued to have a reasonable spell of pressure when a Watson corner from the left picked out a totally unmarked Britos coming round the back, but his downward header was blocked byLong.

Success did well on the left to jink his way past a couple of defenders, but Long was again equal to it, smothering the Nigerian’s attempted low finish.

Berghuis, who had linked up well Daryl Janmaat on times, then accelerated down the right and round the back of the defence, but his attempted low cross was also cut out by Long.

After Watson had seen a 20-yard free-kick deflected narrowly wide of the Don’s keeper’s near post, Long produced his best save to datew, making himself as big as possible and reacting impressively to get in the way of Stefano Okaka’s close-range attempt.

The keeper had to react smartly again four minutes before the break, plunging to his right to keep out Holebas’ whipped left-footed free-kick from 25 yards that went round the wall.

The obligatory substitutions began at the start of the second half, but the two defensive changes Silva made seemingly had an unsettling effect.

Watford had finished the first half well but within 25 seconds of the restart they were behind. Lyle Taylor attacked down the right and played in a good low cross which the stretching McDonald beat Sebastian Prodl to, to turn his finish past Gomes.

It got even worse for the Hornets three minutes later when a misunderstanding on the right side of their defence saw Dja Djede exposed by Barcham, who centred for McDonald to double his tally.

But the Hornets were to halve the deficit in the 57th minute when Holebas toyed with Fuller before taking him on the outside and cutting the ball back to Watson, who finished confidently from the centre of the 18-yard box to make it 2-1.

And the scores could have been level moments later when Berghuis’ low cross from the right broke for the onrushing Capoue, but he fired wide from the edge of the penalty area.

New signing Daniel Bachmann came on for his first appearance in a Hornets shirt on the hour, but within a couple of minutes of entering the fray he could only stand and watch as another substitute, Kwesi Appiah, curled a shot not too far wide of the far post.

But the home side needed Long to come to their rescue again in the 66th minute, making a good save to parry away Nordin Amrabat’s attempted curling finish following a one-touch build-up involving Holebas and Doucoure.

Another chance came and went when Amrabat fed Dja Djedje on the overlap on the right and his cross saw the Dons repel attempts to turn the ball on target by both Watson and Capoue.

Watford still looked less than certain at the back at times, almost playing themselves into trouble on a couple of occasions, but Berghuis was to have their next opportunity when he headed a Holebas cross back across the target and wide.

And the Dutch international was to make no mistake with his next opportunity, hitting across a left-footed shot to guide into the far corner and equalise after Dja Djedje had cut the ball back to him in the 76th minute.

Any neutral observers may have backed the visitors to go on and get a winner at this stage, but Bachmann was then forced to show what he can do as he was forced to athletically tip over a rising drive from Toby Sibbick.

Capoue should have done better when he was played into the area and only had substitute Joe McDonnell to beat, but the French midfielder rather telegraphed his finished and the keeper was not unduly stretched.

Bachmann was then forced to do even better, making a fine block to deny Appiah after a mistake from Christian Kabasele had left the Dons clear through on goal.

But the Hornets were not to escape again when a cross from the right was allowed to run all the way across to the unmarked Jayden Antwi, his shot was blocked, but it rebounded to Egan and he slipped a low finish beyond Bachmann to score what proved to be the winner.

AFC Wimbledon: Long (McDonnell 72); Fuller (Sibbick 67), Robinson (Nightingale 67), Oshilaja (Kalambayi 72), Kennedy (Owens 67); Francomb (Kaja 60), Esseboom (Hartigan 46), Maloney (Parrett 46); Taylor Antwi 72), McDonald (Egan 60), Barcham (Appiah 60).

Watford: Gomes (Bachmann 60); Janmaat (Dja Djedje 46), Prodl, Britos (Kabasele 46), Holebas; Watson, Doucoure; Berghuis (Gordon 90), Capoue (Folivi 85), Success (Amrabat 46); Okaka. Not used: Rowan.

Attendance: 2,101 (624 away fans).