Watford Under-18s were denied a place in the Youth Alliance Cup final after losing 1-0 to Colchester United.
Sam Szmodic’s second-half strike consigned the young Hornets to just their sixth defeat in all competitions this season.
The visitors had an early chance as Szmodic forced Daniel Wilks into an early stop.
Watford’s Michael Folivi had a penalty appeal turned down and Dennon Lewis had an effort blocked at the near post.
Dion Sembie-Ferris missed a good chance for Colchester after the break and Folivi was denied by James Bransgrove after being set up by Folivi.
The U’s made the breakthrough when Jack Curtis played through Szmodic and he confidently finished.
The Hornets’ best chance of an equaliser fell to Tom Rosenthal but he could only send his effort over the crossbar.
Watford: Wilks; Doherty, Johnson, Young; Barnum-Bobb, Rosenthal, Hope, Martin; Bawling (Stewart), Folivi; Lewis.
Substitutes not used: Joseph, Kyprianou, Choi, Dillon.
Colchester United: Bransgrove; Androns, Kent, Stevens, James (Monk), Lapsley, Szmodics, Curtis (Atkin), Sembie-Ferris, Brampton, Harrison.
Substitutes not used: Carroll, O'Shea, Gardiner.