Watford Under-23s' lack of intensity left boss Hayden Mullins searching for answers from their 2-0 defeat at Charlton yesterday.

Fresh from a 2-1 win at Southampton in the Premier League Cup last time out, it was back to league action in South London but, for a third game in succession, the Hornets were on the wrong end of the scoreline.

Mullins' men were positive in spells against the Addicks but were poor at crucial moments, and fell behind to two quickly-taken first-half goals - and it's that which frustrates the former West Ham midfielder the most.

“The goals we gave away were very sloppy,” Mullins told the club website.

“We started okay and pressed and won the ball in good areas, but we got ragged and lost our shape in that middle period of the first-half and lost two goals.

“Towards the end of the first-half we picked up again. We had a chat at half-time and the performance was a lot better in the second. But we’ve got to do that from the off and pin teams back.”

Southampton presented a stronger test than Charlton on paper, especially given their recent record of progression from the Saints academy to the Premier League.

And so that result is still acting as a benchmark for Mullins, who will next host Colchester United at London Colney on Monday afternoon.

“This team showed against Southampton they can do it for 90 minutes and that’s what we’ve got to get back to," he said.

“That’s what I’ll be asking. This is a tough career they are entering. It’s hard physically, mentally, aerobically. It tests everything. You have to deal with a lot of things and you’ve got to show resilience.

"They showed they can do it against Southampton and they’ve set themselves a standard now. We need to match that in the coming weeks.”