Watford Under-23s twice surrendered a lead as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Sheffield United at Vicarage Road.

Goals from Joy Mukena and Ashley Charles gave Watford the lead, but they were pegged back on both occasions by efforts from Simeon Oure and Callum Semple.

Both of United’s strikes came soon after they had gone behind and Watford will have been disappointed with the manner in which they failed to see out the game.

A slow start saw neither side come out of the traps at anything approaching threatening speeds and it took almost half an hour for the first shot in anger to arrive.

The game’s first chance fell to Jay Beckley and he found the side netting with a powerful effort.

Watford responded in kind and Charles was close to opening the scoring when he went through on goal and forced a low save Marcus Dewhurst after 30 minutes.

Hayden Mullins’ men grew in confidence having got behind the United defence for the first time and were the better side as the half approached its conclusion.

Ryan Cassidy was the next to call Dewhurst into action, but once again the England Under-17 was equal to the effort.

Despite their strong finish to the first period, Watford had to settle for parity going into the half-time interval.

There would be no such frustrations in front of goal after the restart as Watford took the lead with the second period in its infancy.

The source of the goal was as much of a shock as the manner in which it was scored as Mukena carried possession out of defence and tried his luck from distance.

His confidence was rewarded with a fortuitous deflection which left Dewhurst with no chance and took the ball into the bottom corner.

The Golden Boys’ lead would last just two minutes, however, as the Blades drew level in the 49th minute.

A failure to clear from a corner – which is a flaw the senior side have exhibited this term as well – allowed Oure to fire a shot through a defender’s leg and in.

Sam Howe then had to be at his best to deny United the lead as he saved with his legs 10 minutes later.

The Watford lead was restored with 15 minutes left to play when Dion Pereira laid a pass into Charles and he ran onto the ball and smashed home under a challenge from a Sheffield man.

Watford looked well placed to take all three points from the clash, but again their lead didn’t last long.

A ball into the box deceived the Watford defence and Semple was on hand to apply a glancing header which found the far corner.

Neither side could force the issue in the final 11 minutes and were forced the settle for a share of spoils.

Watford: Howes (GK) (C); Leighton, Ryan, Mukena, Rogers; D Sesay (Adebiyi 87), Charles, Stewart (Kaikay 87), Lewis; Pereira, Cassidy.

Subs not used: Gartside (GK), Hudson, S Sesay.