Young Lions squash Hornets comeback in five goal thriller
Jamie Philpot broke Watford hearts with a late winner as the young Lions snatched a 3-2 victory and went into the Christmas break on a high.
Millwall appeared on track to record a comfortable victory when a Hornets own goal and Kris Twardek's powerful strike gave the hosts the ascendancy in the second half, but two late goals from Michael Folivi set up a frantic end to the last Professional Development League clash of the year.
Justin Skinner's men came into the match having lost just one of their previous 11 games, and while Watford had failed to win a match since September, it was the visitors who came nearest to opening the scoring in the early exchanges.
Harry Girling was well positioned to turn Carl Stewart's effort over the bar after the Hornets captain slipped his marker and darted into the area in the 15th minute.
The Millwall keeper would be called on again moments later when Dion Perriera broke in on goal after collecting a favourable deflection as Christian Mbulu looked to clear his lines. The Watford forward strode into the area, set his sights on the bottom corner and forced the Lions stopper into a fine save to his left.
With scores locked at 0-0 at half-time, the match was in the balance. But Millwall had grown in confidence and were rewarded in the 68th minute.
Alfie Pavey cut in from the corner flag and chipped to Philpot in the six yard box. And while it was the Millwall striker who firmly headed the ball towards the bottom left corner, it was a luckless defender who was credited with the opening goal of the afternoon after clumsily scuffing his clearance and sending the ball into the back of his own net.
Barely two minutes later The Lions were celebrating a second goal. Twardek received the ball at the edge of the area, shook off a challenge and buried the ball past the reach of the Watford keeper to extend the hosts lead.
Then came the comeback, orchestrated by Dennon Lewis and Folivi. A series of low crosses were sprayed across the goalmouth and when an opportunity arose for Folivi in the 76th minute he tapped home to claw a goal back and ignite hopes of a Watford resurgence.
And after a scramble in the box Folivi bagged his brace barely 60 seconds later. The ball bounced towards the Hornets striker at an awkward height and he reacted well to send a glancing header into the back of the net.
But in the shadow of full-time Philpot squashed any notions of a revival. The Lions striker found space to get on the end of Twardek's beautifully driven cross from the right and nodded the ball past the Watford keeper from point blank range.
Millwall: Girling, McNamara, Chesmain, Donovan, Green, Mbulu, Twardek, Farrell, Pavey (Leighton), Philpot, Ebuzoeme (White). Subs not used: Sandford, White, Mundle-Smith
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