A first-half hat-trick from Will Buckley helped Watford to a 5-0 win over Boreham Wood in their opening pre-season fixture.

Goals from Buckley, Danny Graham and Stephen McGinn resulted in Watford dominating the first half but then wholesale changes at the break saw the visitors unable to add to the scoresheet in the second half.

Fans hoping to see the first sight of new signing Tom Aldred were left disappointed after he picked up a minor calf injury and was forced to miss out but Rene Gilmartin was introduced at half time.

Malky Mackay had planned to select a completely different XI for each half but Aldred's withdrawal meant Hodson stayed on the pitch for the second half.

The selection of second-year scholar Adam Thompson at right back saw Hodson start the match on the left before moving to centre midfield at the break.

The Hornets were always on top at Meadow Park and found themselves 4-0 up inside 18 minutes.

The visitors had the first chance when Graham almost picked out Buckley on the six-yard box but bizarrely the opener came from a Boreham Wood attack on 11 minutes.

Dewayne Clarke surprisingly out-muscled Martin Taylor and pulled the ball back to Greg Morgan, whose shot was heading for the top corner before Thompson got the block in. Watford immediately broke and Buckley picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran past three or four defenders before slipping it past Simon Overland into the far corner from 12 yards.

Watford doubled their lead three minutes later when Piero Mingoia unselfishly slid Graham in and he crossed for Buckley to bundle home.

Graham then grabbed one himself less than 60 seconds later when Hodson's long ball released the former Carlisle striker and he calmly slotted past Overland at his near post.

And it was two of the Hornets' youngsters who linked up for the fourth. Mingoia put Thompson through wide right and his shot was not gathered by Overland and McGinn tapped home from six yards out.

There was a water break on 27 minutes and it seemed to affect the Hornets momentum for a while, with a saved Graham header and a Bryan shot, which went over the bar, the only real chances created in the next 15 minutes.

But then Watford had another burst shortly before the break as neat play from Michael Bryan and Taylor saw the ball laid off to Buckley and his shot was well-held by Overland.

But the former Rochdale striker would not be denied his hat-trick as superb wing play from Mingoia saw the youngster drive to the byline and pick out the run of Buckley, who volleyed powerfully into the net to make it 5-0.

There were ten changes for Watford at the break, with only Hodson remaining on the pitch for the second half as he moved into the centre of midfield.

It was a more youthful looking Hornets side in the second half and first year scholar Gavin Massey, who made his debut as a schoolboy against Coventry City, had the first attempt of the second half, as he fired over from 20 yards out.

Rob Kiernan, who spent the end of last season on loan at Kilmarnock, partnered Adrian Mariappa at centre back, with Dale Bennett at right back.

And Kiernan almost scored 12 minutes into the half when the ball fell to him at the back post from a corner but he was twice denied by Overland.

Watford seemed to be more direct early in the second half and were not creating as many chances, although Matthew Whichelow and Gavin Massey looked lively going forward.

Liam Henderson is still looking for his first senior goal but he has been prolific at Meadow Park in recent seasons for the Reserves and he almost found the net from 18 yards out as his shot went narrowly wide.

Mackay had called Hodson off the pitch just after the hour mark to replace him with Bryan but referee Steve Cook would not allow the change despite it being a pre-season friendly.

This led to Bryan, Thompson and Mingoia returning to changing room and a few positional changes – as Hodson moved to right back, Bennett went to centre half and Kiernan pushed into the centre of midfield.

Watford had to wait until the 79th minute for their next chance as Henderson slipped in Whichelow one-on-one but Overland saved well with his legs.

Don Cowie fired a free kick straight into the wall moments later but the Hornets chances of grabbing a sixth goal were reduced when Ross Jenkins came off through injury and Cook still would not allow Mackay to reintroduce one of the players who appeared in the first half.

Hodson sliced a shot out for a throw-in in the 86th minute but the best chance of the half once again fell to Whichelow, after Massey put him through one-on-one, but Overland again denied the first-year pro.

Boreham Wood: Overland; Garrard, Moran, Fraser (Hunter 59), Kirby; Clarke (McEwan 85), Hunter, Allinson, Morgan (Brett 74); Stanley (Highton 39), Seanla (Anson 85).

Unused subs: Yala, Baker-Owers.

First half line-up: Loach; Thompson, Oshodi, Taylor, Hodson; Bryan, McGinn, Eustace, Mingoia; Buckley, Graham.

Second half line-up; Gilmartin; Bennett, Mariappa, Kiernan, Doyley; Whichelow, Hodson, Jenkins, Cowie; Massey, Henderson.