Watford Under-23s were denied a late winner against Cardiff City by a controversial refereeing decision, meaning they had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

The Bluebirds took the lead in the first half through Aaron Bolger, but Joseph Hungbo curled in an excellent equaliser with seven minutes to go to add to his list of fine strikes this season.

Mason Barrett thought he had won the game at the death for the Hornets, but his strike was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Jayden Bennetts had the first chance of the game for Watford after he was picked out by Hungbo, but after rounding the goalkeeper he was unable to escape the attention of the defender, who managed to clear his effort.

Despite having the better of the opening exchanges, it was Cardiff who took the lead on the stroke of half time when a quick free-kick caught Watford napping, and Aaron Bolger was on hand to slot a cut-back past Adam Parkes.

Cardiff then created the first chance of the second half, but Parkes was alert to pull off an excellent acrobatic double save before pouncing on the loose ball.

The introduction of Under-18's pair JJ McKeirnan and Sonny Blu Lo-Everton changed the game for the hosts, the latter setting Bennetts away with an excellent pass but his lobbed effort bounced off the post.

Lo-Everton also had a hand in the Hornets’ equaliser, this time playing an excellent pass into Hungbo who dropped his shoulder, cut inside and curled brilliantly in off the far post.

Watford continued to test the Cardiff defence for the remaining minutes and they thought they’d won it when Barrett volleyed home after the goalkeeper had dropped Lo-Everton’s free kick, but the referee awarded a free-kick instead before blowing for full time.