Goals in the first half handed the U's U21s defeat against Watford in the Professional Development League at Maldon Stadium.
Liam Bailey’s young U’s lined up against a Watford side that sat bottom of the table in the Professional Development League, looking to bounce back following defeat against Millwall earlier in the week.
But two goals before half time sealed the tie in favour of the visitors, with the Hornets taking all three points from the Professional Development League encounter; Kai Redgrave netted a consolation in stoppage time for the U's.
The first twenty minutes brought little goalmouth action; both teams earned a handful of corners, but failed to threaten.
Then, twenty minutes in, the referee was forced to make a decision after a foul from Ryan Lowe on his marker in the middle of the field. The U’s man was issued a booking in a game that had already seen plenty of tackles.
And five minutes later, the visitors had their noses in front in the contest. A free kick was well controlled in the penalty area for the Watford forward to stroke into the bottom corner.
The travelling Hornets could’ve doubled their advantage a couple of minutes later after a quick break on the right flank. The ball was fired across for a Watford man to take aim, but his effort was just wide of the mark.
But the U’s looked to fight back and went close to an equaliser ten minutes before half time. Lion Bello delivered a deep cross from a corner, with Gene Kennedy striking the bar with a close-range effort at the back post.
Liam Bailey’s side continued to threaten before the break, with a quick counter attack abruptly halted by a Watford man. He was promptly booked for the foul on Bennett with eight minutes to play.
Despite their attacking effort, the U’s would trail by two at the break as the Hornets doubled their advantage just before half time. The ball was switched from left to right with an advanced Watford full back able to control and drill the ball beyond the U’s ‘keeper with a minute of the first half to go.
There was still time for Marley Marshall Miranda to be issued a yellow card, but the U’s had a fair amount of work to do if they were going to get anything from the game in the second half.
Liam Bailey opted to make one change at half time, with Kacy Parish replaced by Kai Redgrave, as the U’s kept the pressure on to try and get back into the game.
Ryan Lowe brought about the U’s first effort on target with a powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area ten minutes into the second half.
And on the hour mark, the U’s though they should have had a penalty. Bradley Ihionvien toed the ball past his man before contact on the edge of the eighteen-yard box, but the referee waved for play to continue, with the U’s striker booked for his protests a minute later.
The U’s made their second change of the afternoon with just over fifteen minutes to play as Oscar Thorn was replaced by Jamie Arnold.
Keeping the pressure on Watford’s defence, Matt Yates soon saw an effort whistle just beyond the far post. Ryan Lowe’s corner sailed all the way through to the advanced central defender as he dragged his shot just wide of the mark.
As the game entered stoppage time the U’s were reduced to ten men with Bradley Ihionvien sent off for a second bookable offence. But there was still time for Liam Bailey’s side to get one goal back as Kai Redgrave fought through plenty of yellow shirts to fire into the back of the net.
But it proved only to be a consolation with the full-time whistle blowing a couple of minutes later and the visitors taking all three points in the 2-1 win.
The result means the U’s remain in ninth position in the Professional Development League, with a trip to Coventry City up next for Liam Bailey’s side.
Colchester United starting XI: Trialist, Parish (Redgrave 46’), Bello, Marshall Miranda, Yates, Edwards, Thorn (Arnold 73’), Kennedy, Ihionvien, Lowe, Bennett.
Subs: Chamberlain, Joliffe, Redgrave, Marcel-Dilaver, Arnold.