Uche Ikpeazu marked his first competitive outing of the season by scoring an extra-time winner against Bristol City in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.

Ikpeazu has not featured since requiring ankle surgery in the summer but he played the full 120 minutes at Ashton Gate.

And after being bundled over in the second half of extra-time, the 19-year-old stepped up to send the Bristol City goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 2-1 and ensure his team progressed into the next round.

Sean Murray, Connor Smith, Rene Gilmartin and Tommie Hoban, in particular, impressed in front of the watching head coach Slavisa Jokanovic, his assistants Ruben Martinez and Javier Pereira and sporting director Luke Dowling.

The Hornets named a considerably stronger side than the home team; with just one scholar in the Golden Boys’ starting XI, who lined up in a 4-3-3.

Craig Cathcart, who captained the side, and Bernard Mensah were also among the professionals who started for the Hornets.

Sometimes games at this level lack an edge but there was a good tempo during the majority of this match. The likes of Murray and Smith showed great commitment and desire from the off.

Watford had a couple of early chances. Mensah had an shot saved at the near post and Alex Jakubiak, who is currently on loan at Oxford United, headed wide from a corner inside the opening ten minutes.

But City were arguably the better team in the first half despite a considerable difference in the experience of the two line-ups.

Bristol City’s midfield players broke forward from deep to good effect early on and were dangerous in the wide areas. Lewis Hall, who was a constant threat on the left flank, and Joe Morrell had already seen efforts go wide and over respectively before City scored the game’s opening goal in the 19th minute.

Watford scholar Alfie Young and Hoban were unable to stop the cross of Wes Burns on the left and one of the Hornets defenders should have cut out his low delivery before Jordan Wynter tapped in at the far post.

The pace of the game slowed slightly midway through the half, although the Golden Boys did start to dictate more of the play.

Ikpeazu had struggled to make an impact in the opening half an hour but he started to hold-up the play well as the game wore on. And it was through his hold-up play that Watford equalised seven minutes before the break as Mensah – who has also recently returned from long-term injury - curled a lovely strike into the top corner from 20 yards.

But the Hornets almost handed the advantage straight back to the home side as neither Hoban nor Cathcart dealt with a long diagonal and Jamie Horgan beat Gilmartin to the ball. Fortunately his header went comfortably wide, with the goal gaping.

Moments later another diagonal caught Watford’s defence napping and Hall volleyed over by some distance.

The Hornets’ defence improved considerably from then on and Hoban was imperious in the second half and during extra-time.

There was a frantic start to the second period, with Smith regularly bursting forward from midfield, but Watford were wasteful in the final third, often picking the wrong pass or holding on to the ball too long.

Bristol City goalkeeper David Richards almost handed Watford the lead when he misjudged a free-kick but substitute Dennon Lewis was unable to guide his volley goalwards.

Ikpeazu didn’t have many sights of goal but the former Reading man should have made more of a shot from ten yards out. He mishit his effort and it ended up being a routine save for Richards.

Jakubiak was also unable to really trouble Richards with his effort midway through the half, after Smith’s neat back-heel.

Watford were creating all the chances and Jakubiak should have put his team ahead when he bundled his way through. His initial effort was well saved and the Scotland youth international tried a back-heel from close range when facing away from goal and it went wide, when it seemed easier to score.

Jakubiak was unable to capitalise on a trio of good chances in the second half. The third came when Ikpeazu did well to release the striker but his low right-footed shot went narrowly wide of the far post.

Watford were dominant but Bristol City fired a warning shot with less than a quarter of an hour remaining as Gilmartin rushed out to save at the feet of Hall. The offside flag went up but it was a good save from the Irishman nonetheless.

City’s young players looked a threat around the Hornets box, even if their openings were limited after their excellent first-half display. Horgan was agonisingly close with a curled shot from just outside the area.

Neither side were able to find the clinical edge needed to settle the game during the initial 90 minutes and extra-time was required.

Gilmartin was only called into action once during regular time, and the offside flag went up any way, but he was ready when required in extra-time. The 27-year-old first parried away a fine effort from Gus Mafuta from 25 yards and then held on to a low drive from Hall following a dominant spell by the home side.

The game then turned on its head over the course of one relentless minute. Bristol City were so close to going ahead when Morrell set off on a mazy run before hitting the crossbar with a dipping shot. Gilmartin then recovered to save the rebound.

Watford immediately countered and were awarded a penalty when Ikpeazu was brought down in the box. The striker stepped up to send Richards the wrong way and put his team in front.

But having seemingly been fortunate with a refereeing decision in the first-half, Watford were again the beneficiaries when Sam Allison adjudged a City player was brought down just outside the area when it appeared he may have been inside the box.

Even then, Mafuta’s thunderous strike would have beaten many goalkeepers but Gilmartin saved superbly when going the opposite way.

City had a third penalty appeal turned away shortly before the end but Watford were able to hold on to progress into the next round.

It was an entertaining match for the fans in attendance and the likes of Hoban, Murray, Smith and Gilmartin – to name a few – will have impressed the watching Jokanovic.

Bristol City: Richards; Wynter, Hall, Murphy, Vyner, Batten, Last (Mafuta 82), Morrell, Burns, Fry (Mattis 113), Horgan.

Subs: Wollacott, Withey, Monelle.

Watford: Gilmartin; Young, Cathcart (Rowan 69), Hoban, Doherty; Smith, Byers, Murray; Mensah (Lewis 50), Ikpeazu, Jakubiak (Folivi 98).

Subs: Ammann, Stewart.