U23 Report: Cardiff City 2-0 Watford
The Hornets' Under-23 side were downed by goals from two senior Bluebirds players, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat by Cardiff City in the Welsh Capital.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Gary Madine - who have made eight Premier League appearances between them this season - each scored in the second half after the young Hornets had made it difficult for the hosts up until then.
Loic Damour and Brian Murphy were also senior professionals included in the Cardiff starting XI, meaning that a Watford side that had an average age of just 18 and a half were facing a tough test from the outset.
Watford had the first real chance after 11 minutes, as Michael Folivi cut in from the left and tested Murphy's reflexes with a powerful drive. The Hornets were piling on the pressure, with Ryan Cassidy the next to spurn a decent chance just moments later, after good interplay with Folivi.
But Cardiff slowly played their way back into the game, with Sam Howes called into action to deny Mendez-Laing from opening the scoring with 26 minutes played.
From that point on the Bluebirds really got the bit between their teeth; Howes again needed to take action to claw away a well-struck free-kick, Mendez-Laing and Damour both wasted good chances by dragging their shots wide of the target, and then Madine tried to fire home a volley which would have found the net, if not for a deflection that took it away from goal.
All things considered, the Hornets could have been behind at the break, but a combination of excellent goalkeeping and resolute defending meant that they had swatted away a series of chances from the more experienced Cardiff side.
Perhaps, after a flurry of chances in the first period, both sides were sent out to be a little tighter in the second - with no real chances coming until past the hour mark, though when they did come, they unfortunately came for the hosts.
Mendez-Laing fired home in the 67th minute to put all that hard work to waste, before leaving the field to some applause - the winger has been on his way back from a ligament injury.
From then on it only really looked as if the Bluebirds would add to the scoreline, and they did in the 90th minute, as Madine rose powered a header past Howes to put the tin lid on it.
HORNETS| Howes (GK); Eleftheriou, Hudson, Mukena, Gordon; Forster (Bennetts, 89), Charles (C), Phillips (Hutchinson, 77), Holsgrove (Trialist, 68); Cassidy, Folivi.
Subs not used | Baptiste (GK), Tricker.