Watford Academy's head of coaching hailed the attitude of Sean Murray, Connor Smith and Tommie Hoban following the club's progression in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.

The trio may have been first team players for more than two years but they showed excellent professionalism during the Under-21s' 2-1 victory at Bristol City.

Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic and his assistants, Ruben Martinez and Javier Pereira, were watching at Ashton Gate and the Hornets Academy's head of coaching believes the graduates will have impress the new first team boss.

Barry Quin said: "It showed their mentality, the mental strength they have and the self belief; what it takes to drive you on because it would have been easy to be disappointed and not perform but that wasn't the case.

"Sean, Tommie, Connor; they were all players who have had a taste [of first team football] and I'm sure they will get it again. I'm sure they haven't done themselves any damage at all."

Quin added: "I know it is unfair to single out players but Sean Murray was superb - talent and hard work. But I don't want to detract from anyone else because they were all fantastic."

The Golden Boys named an extremely strong team for the Under-21 Premier League Cup second round tie, with Alfie Young the only scholar in the starting XI.

Third choice goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin excelled in goal and Craig Cathcart was the other over-aged player in the side. Young professionals Bernard Mensah, Alex Jakubiak and Uche Ikpeazu started in attack as part of a 4-3-3 formation.

It was Ikpeazu's first competitive outing since ankle surgery in the summer and the 19-year-old started the game slowly before playing a part in both goals.

Bristol City's young, energetic team impressed despite facing more experienced opposition.

Watford had a couple of early chances through Mensah and Jakubiak but City were worthy of the opening goal midway through the half.

The Hornets' defending was poor at times in the first half and not only should City's cross from the left have been blocked, it certainly should have been cleared prior to Jordan Wynter tapping in at the far post.

Watford started to dictate the play more and equalised seven minutes before the break. Ikpeazu held up the ball and Mensah – who has also recently returned from long-term injury - curled a lovely strike into the top corner from 20 yards.

More sloppy defending almost handed the lead immediately back to City but the Golden Boys' defence improved considerably after the interval and Hoban in particular was imperious.

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 for too long.

Ikpeazu and Jakubiak - on a few occasions - failed to make the most of excellent chances and the latter missed with a back-heel from close range when it seemed easier to score, after City goalkeeper David Richards initially denied the Oxford United loanee.

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 the dangerous Lewis 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 Joe Morrell hit the crossbar following a mazy run and Gilmartin recovered to save the rebound.

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

City had a few penalty appeals turned down and from one of the free-kicks, Gilmartin produced a wonderful save to deny a thunderous effort from Mafuta to ensure his team's progression to the third round.

Quin questioned if having Jokanovic and his assistants in the crowd contributed to Watford's poor start but believes some of the players will have impressed the first team boss.

"I'm delighted with the overall performance because sometimes it is about rolling your sleeves up and grinding out the result and we had to do that at times," Quin said.

"The good news is that even when it wasn't going the way we wanted, they kept going and pushing until we got back to the levels we wanted and expected."