Dave Hughes believes his young Watford side's 1-0 defeat at MK Dons yesterday gave his players a lesson in what's required to take the step up to the next level.
The Hornets, who included a number of Under-16s in their starting XI, conceded the decisive goal in the second half having failed to clear a long ball over the top.
Hughes was disappointed with his team's display but believes the match shows his players where they need to improve if they are to progress further.
“The Under-16s in the team will have a good understanding now of the differences between Under-16 and Under-18 football, so as they look to step into the full-time programme they will need to raise their game, which is a significant challenge,” the Hornets youth coach told the club's official website.
“They’re aware of the expectations and demands of the next stage up, which is very important, but overall we were disappointed more than anything today.
"We didn’t pass the ball, although it was hard for us to pass the ball on what was a difficult pitch."
There was better news for the young Hornets earlier in the week as they registered a 2-1 victory over Gillingham.
Watford Under-18s are now four games into a congested period of six matches in a fortnight, with upcoming fixtures against Colchester United tomorrow and Leyton Orient on Saturday.