Watford youth coach Dave Hughes says the Hornets’ young players were given "a sense of what real football is" during the Under-21 side's 4-3 pre-season friendly defeat against Hemel Hempstead Town this evening.

A brace from Golden Boys youngster Michael Folivi and a strike from Alex Jakubiak were cancelled out at Vauxhall Road by a double from Ben Mackey and goals from Benny Fiadzomer and Lewis Toomey.

The young Hornets, particularly in the first half, were incisive when they attacked but several defensive lapses meant they let a lead slip on three occasions.

“It was a really good lesson for the players and it’s important for them to understand how challenging it is because there are some really good players in the Conference South,” Hughes said.

“It was a great and different experience for the lads. Some of the young pros needed game time and I thought we looked really good going forward in the first half but really open in our defensive third.

“I thought Alex Jakubiak looked electric up front, George Byers got 45 minutes after injury and Josh Doherty got time after the pitch after being away with Northern Ireland.

“Overall we felt the game gave the lads a sense of what real football is.”

Hemel Hempstead caused the Hornets problems throughout the contest and the home side could have added several goals to their total if it wasn’t for an outstanding display from young Watford goalkeeper Shaun Rowley.

Hughes continued: “Hemel Hempstead are a really good side who opened us up and caused us problems.

“But that is what young players need. They need to be taken into a different environment.

“Overall it was a great test. Shaun made some great saves and we created good opportunities in the final third. It was a great exercise for the lads.”