Watford's Under-18 side were left frustrated by a narrow 2-0 home defeat against Bristol City on Saturday morning (October 9).
The Hornets created numerous chances but the visitors proved to be clinical in-front of goal as their two first-half strikes sealed all three points.
Watford started brightly and fashioned the first real opening through Reece Stray. The midfielder nipped in to dispossess the defender of the ball. He rounded keeper Lochlan Robertson but chipped his effort just over the bar.
Moments later and the Hornets were inches away from taking the lead. Treon Johnson broke into the box before firing a low ball across the face of the goal. An outstretched boot deflected the ball against the post and it trickled back along the goal line, but was cleared by a defender at the final moment.
Despite their early dominance, the Hornets fell behind midway through the half. Andrew Thomas pulled off an excellent save to deny Ricardo Rees, who had met a cross from the left on the volley. However the rebound fell invitingly to Vince Harper and he hammered the ball into the net.
Two free-kicks from Jesus Cruz Cabrera presented the hosts with a good opportunity to get back into the game. The first was whipped in with power and only just punched away by Robertson. The second narrowly curled wide of the post as the Robins survived.
With half-time approaching, the Hornets were almost on level terms. Dion Pereira arrowed a great ball into the box which Johnson met with a header. However he was unable to steer his effort on-target and the ball went wide of the goal.
It would prove to be costly as with the final kick of the half the Robins extended their lead. Harper did well to beat Ben Jones to a long-pass from midfield. He broke into the box before firing a low strike into the bottom corner for his second of the match.
The hosts started the second-half positively as Pereira put the visitors under pressure with a couple of well-weighted corners. The first was headed clear before Robertson spilled the second into the path of Louis Rogers. The full-back however couldn't get a clear connection on the ball.
The chances kept on coming as Marian Huja was just unable to get onto the end of a Josh Roe cross, before Pereira fired a left-footed strike just over the bar.
Roe too caused the Robins problems with his corners into the box. Midway through the half Robertson came to punch a well-delivered cross but almost deflected it into his net as the ball just bounced wide of the post.
With the Hornets in need of a goal, Max Ryan was pushed further forward. The move almost had an instant impact as he twisted and turned inside the box before firing an effort at goal which was well saved.
Bristol had one final chance to extend their lead but Opi Edwards fired over when well positioned in front of goal with a free-kick.
Reflecting after full-time, Under-18 Coach David Horseman said he felt his side had dominated and on the balance of play were unfortunate not to have got anything from the match.
"It was a game that we completely dominated from start to finish, but we never hugely looked like scoring," he said, speaking to watfordfc.com.
"With the amount of possession and chances we had we should have carved them open. In truth we should be scoring two or three of our chances. A lot of good things went on in the middle of the pitch, but the quality in both boxes has cost us today.
"It's tough because some of the lads are playing in unnatural positions due to some injuries, but it's all part of their development. There were positives out there though, despite the score, and some of our younger lads have impressed.
"Part of development at this level is losing. As much as I hate losing, we have some talent in there and this year will put the foundations in place and put us in good stead for the future."
HORNETS: Thomas (GK); Jones, Rogers, Ryan, Huja; Pereira, Roe, Empson (Marsh Brown, 70), Stray, Cruz Cabrera (Gordon, 57); Johnson.
Subs not used: Lacy (GK), Scarboro-Williams, Mullins.