Despite naming five players with first-team experience in their line-up, Watford Under-23s put in a timid performance to lose 2-1 against QPR in front of an onlooking Marco Silva at London Colney.

Mauro Zarate, Stefano Okaka, Will Hughes, Jerome Sinclair and Miguel Britos all started the Professional Development League game, with Daniel Bachmann named in goal.

But the hosts found themselves two goals down through Aramide Oteh's penalty and a second from Giles Phillips.

Dion Pereira pulled a goal back in injury time with his sixth of the campaign already for the young Hornets, but it was elementary come the full-time whistle.

It all could've been so different had Zarate not been denied by the post after good link-up play with Okaka with less than a minute on the clock.

But with that miss behind the Hornets, they gifted QPR an opener when David Sesay was adjudged to have fouled Paul Smyth in the box by the nearby linesman, despite the former's insistence he had won the ball.

Oteh stepped up to beat Bachmann from 12 yards, and it could soon have been two as Ilias Chair skipped through, but Joy Mukena denied him with a vital last-ditch challenge.

Zarate's luck was again out 20 minutes in when his free-kick from just outside the area cannoned against the woodwork for a second time, leaving him perplexed as to what he had to do to score.

Sesay then went from villain to what perhaps should have been hero, after he was left on the floor in the QPR area when brought crashing to the ground by a visiting leg - but referee Lee Brennan was adamant he had not been fouled.

Instead, Watford found themselves two behind, Giles Philips finishing off when Oteh's effort was saved by Bachmann.

Zarate and Hughes combined to set up Pereira for a sixth goal in as many Under-23 games in injury time, but instead of pushing for the equaliser, it was QPR who went close in the dying moments.

Bachmann, left helpless for both goals, was alert to keep out the visitors' last chance of the game, as Watford were condemned to back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.

Watford Under-23s: Bachmann; Eleftheriou, Mukena, Britos (Rowan 62), Sesay; Sinclair (Folivi 62), Charles (Stewart 74), Hughes, Pereira; Zarate; Okaka.

Not used: Gartside, Williams.