Another flying start but a very different ending as Watford were knocked out of the Carabao Cup 4-3 on penalties at Stevenage.

The Hornets led after just five minutes through a well-taken Vakoun Bayo goal but the home side were far more resilient than QPR on Saturday and although they didn’t overly test Ben Hamer in goal, they had applied enough pressure to justify their equaliser just before the break.

Watford had the better of the second half and on another day would have won the tie, but for two superb saves from home keeper Kristian Hegyi.

His diving tip away to deny substitute Rhys Healey was good enough but he’s preceded that with a true match-winning stop, spreading himself and getting enough on Bayo’s sidefooted effort from six yards to not just slow the ball down but also get it up and over the bar.

As the head coach said afterwards, it was a night when he learned more about his players, their adaptability to his way of playing and changing shape during games and their overall attitude and spirit than he did from the first minute onwards on Saturday.

The home side were direct and physical, but they also pressed the Hornets higher up the pitch, which to a few scary moments when the ball was either given away or lost 30 yards from goal.

Had this been an away draw in a league game you’d say it was two points dropped but no great harm done.

However, in the Carabao Cup you have to go penalties, and after Wes Hoedt and Francisco Sierralta scored, and the hosts had missed one, Watford had a 2-1 advantage.

But then Ryan Porteous blazed over the bar, Healey his effort saved and, although Kone converted his spot kick, Stevenage didn’t miss again to wrap up a 4-3 win.

The Hornets made only one from change from Saturday, Hamer stepping in between the posts for Dan Bachmann, with Hoedt taking the captain’s armband.

Valerien Ismael said afterwards he wanted to see more minutes from his senior players, and to make it clear he wasn’t messing about just because it was a cup tie.

And there certainly wasn’t any messing about with regard to the way the Hornets set about the game.

It wasn’t quite as fast as Saturday, but five minutes in and they were ahead.

Dele-Bashiru’s free kick swung over from the right was touched in at the back post by Bayo for his second in two games.

Unlike Saturday’s opponents, Stevenage kept composed and slowly worked their way back into the game.

In the meantime, Watford had a chance to go further ahead as Matheus Martins tested Hegyi in goal with a low drilled cross that the keeper held with yellow shirts all around.

In the 21st minute the home side should have been back on terms. Hoedt and James Morris collided on the left, kane Smith got away and crossed. Jake Forster-Caskey shot goalwards and Hamer made a fine block, recovering to also hold a follow-up effort.

Jeremy Ngakia, who took a blow in winning the free kick that led to the opening goal, came off after 33 minutes and was replaced by Andrews.

Two minutes later an errant header from Nathan Thompson allowed Martins to break down the left. Bayo dummied his cross but Imran Louza sent his shot straight at Hegyi, who then dived to his left to hold an angled effort from Martins.

The home side equalised in the 41st minute and be fair to Stevenage, they'd been knocking on the door.

Forster-Caskey's right-wing corner was knocked up in the air, Josh March controlled and then beat Hamer with a clever bicycle kick.

Four minutes after the restart Alex MacDonald thumped a low 25-yard free kick wide before a smart one-two on the right saw Ken Sema release Ryan Andrews into the box. He drilled a low cross which was blocked for a corner.

From Louza’s resultant set piece, Sierralta rose highest but his header drifted wide of the back post.

Just after the hour Ismael sent on Jake Livermore and Ismael Kone to replace Dele-Bashiru and Sema.

More than once Watford’s desire to play out from the back led to some discomfort, not least after 67 minutes when Forster-Caskey was presented with the ball 20 yards out but saw his shot deflected wide.

In the 70th minute Livermore arrowed a pass out to Andrews on the right and he drove a cross towards the near post which Hegyi had to parry before gathering.

Two minutes later Bayo though he had his second but a wonder save denies him and Watford.

Andrews broke from a Stevenage corner and slipped in the supporting Porteous inside the box. He dragged the ball back and Bayo was perfectly placed to meet the ball with a firm sidefoot that Hegyi somehow deflected up and over the bar.

A minute from the end of the regulation 90 Hegyi again denied Watford. Morris crossed from the by-line on the left and Healey climbed to send a downwards header goalwards which the keeper pushed away.

A minute later as the game headed into nine minutes of stoppage time, Kone released Andrews on the right. He steadied himself and picked out Morris on the edge of the box, but his half volley cleared the bar.

The stoppage time provided no winner, and so the tie went to penalties.

Stevenage missed their first kick and Watford led 2-1, but then Porteous skied his over the bar before Healey saw his saved by the keeper’s legs, and that was enough for the home side progress 4-3.

Watford: Hamer, Ngakia (Andrews 33), Porteous, Hoedt, Morris; Sierralta; Louza (Kayembe 78), Dele-Bashiru (Livermore 61); Sema (Kone 61), Bayo, Martins (Healey 78). Subs: Roberts, Pollock, Asprilla, Forde