A LATE goal condemned Colchester United's under-23s to a 3-2 home defeat against Watford, at the JobServe Community Stadium, writes BRIAN WALLER.

The U's side featured first-team players such as Diaz Wright and Ryan Gondoh along with Louis Dunne, who continued his comeback from injury in the Professional Development League Two clash.

Chances were at a premium in a fairly quiet first half, although Kieron Holsgrove pulled a free-kick wide of the far post for Watford early on.

Colchester took the lead eight minutes before half-time through Ken Charles, whose flicked header from Gondoh's cross to the near post found the far corner of the net.

But a minute before half-time, Watford equalised when Ryan Cassidy hooked a left-foot shot into the net after U's keeper Ethan Ross had superbly saved Holsgrove's shot.

Holsgrove curled a shot wide of the far post early in the second half before Watford went ahead 12 minutes after the break when Harry Forster curled a shot into the far corner of the net.

However, Colchester wasted no time in getting back into the game.

They equalised three minutes later when Chris Forino outjumped Watford keeper Sam Howes to nod home, after a delivery had been headed on.

Ross made another good save to block Phillips' effort with his legs with 20 minutes to go but Watford had a shout for a penalty when Cassidy went down in the box after being challenged by Aaron Barnes, as the Watford centre-forward tried to get onto the end of Andrew Eleftheriou's cross.

But the Hornets grabbed their winner with six minutes remaining through Dan Phillips, who slipped the ball into the net after a U's player had been outmuscled off the ball.

Ross denied Cassidy as the clock ticked down and despite two minutes of stoppage-time being added on, the U’s could not get back on terms.

Colchester United under-23: Ross, Barnes, Forino (sub Miller), Agboola, Kazeem, Gondoh (sub Cracknell), Wright, Charles, Trialist, Dunne (sub Chilvers), McKeown. Substitutes (not used): Coulter, Hasanally.