Michael Folivi’s double gave Watford Under-23s a first win in three league games as the hosts outclassed Colchester 3-0 at Vicarage Road.

Brice Dja Djedje opened the scoring after Folivi was tripped from a corner, slotting home from 12 yards to cap another assured performance in midfield.

But the youngster’s brace would follow with strikes either side of half-time, the first a magnificent run and finish after outpacing and outmuscling the visiting defence.

He and Djedje then linked up for the hosts’ third in the final 20 minutes, as the Ivorian nodded Andrew Eleftheriou’s cross to the unmarked striker for a composed finish.

Daniel Bachmann got a rare chance to impress between the sticks in front of two of Marco Silva’s assistants, albeit not the man himself, with Nathan Gartside fit enough to return to the bench.

Harvey Bradbury was demoted in the other change with his replacement, Folivi, looked bright on the right of a front three early on.

Djedje was again given another runout in the centre of the park, and while his style was nonchalant his generally crisp passing, as Watford looked forward at every opportunity, allowed it to be.

Hayden Mullins has been perplexed by the Under-23s’ inconsistency after their struggles at Charlton last time out, and this showing was chalk-and-cheese performance from that dour defeat in South London.

Joy Mukena nearly capped their bright start with a 12th-minute header which nestled the wrong side of Daniel Wilks’ bar, before Folivi, who looked like a man with a point to prove, had another effort on the turn from a Djedje short corner blocked.

Colchester weren’t at the races but were presented with a golden chance with half an hour gone when a deep free-kick found Eoin McKeown, who laid the ball off to early substitute Dean Ager - but with the goal gaping he shot straight at Bachmann.

Ager regretted that miss even more within two minutes, when another short Djedje corner found Folivi, and the striker, an increasing nuisance, was bundled over by Tariq Issa.

Djedje stepped up to beat Wilks from the spot, despite the goalkeeper guessing the right way, with Watford’s bright start rightly rewarded at last.

The difference between the sides proved pure quality rather than confidence; the opener did not change the course of the game, with Bachmann a passenger as Watford sought a second.

And that disparity would be highlighted best by the manner with which the hosts made the next breakthrough, just before the break.

Carl Stewart’s ball down the outside of Colchester full-back George Brown had Folivi turning on the afterburners to outpace him, and he embarrassed the defender further when holding him off to cut inside the U’s area when you would have expected him to get caught out.

The young forward then showed his composure to round off a superb move by firing into the far corner and giving Watford a solid cushion at the break.

Watford looked a cut above their visitors before the break and continued after, with Charlie Rowan wastefully nodding wide from a corner and Andrew Eleftheriou running out of space to control Mason’s pinpoint deep cross.

So it was little surprise when they added a third with 18 minutes left in an otherwise unremarkable half with Colchester often going throug the motions - and it was Folivi again who put the game beyond any doubt.

Eleftheriou got beyond his full-back yet again and found Djedje, who nodded back across goal for Folivi to give the striker time to pick his spot and slot past Wilks.

The final 10 minutes was overshadowed by an injury to Bachmann, who was floored by a clash of heads from a Colchester corner and, after regaining consciousness, was helped off the field by the Watford medical staff.

But once the game resumed so too did Watford Under-23s their professional performance, seeing out the game with ease, although substitute keeper Gartside was given a brief scare when Ager again found space to fire a rasping drive goalwards which he kept out with two strong hands.

Watford Under-23s: Bachmann (Gartside 84); Eleftheriou (Sesay 79), Rowan, Mukena, Mason; Djedje, Stewart, Ryan; Folivi, Williams, Pereira (Charles 68).

Not used: Huja, Bradbury.