Birmingham 0 Watford 1 match report: Early Troy Deeney strike is enough to give play-off finalist's opening day victory

Deeney's 11th minute strike hands Hornets the win as they continue good form from last season

Troy Deeney's 11-minute strike proved to be the winner as last year's losing Championship play-off finalists Watford began this season with a narrow victory at Birmingham.

Earlier this year, Deeney was twice on the mark in a 4-0 win against the Blues and today, he scored a vital early winner against his boyhood club to give the Hornets a perfect start to the new campaign.

The confidence he displayed in notching his first-half goal highlighted why he is one of the most dangerous strikers in the division.

The visitors made a positive start to the new campaign as if to make amends for their disappointment last May.

Manager Gianfranco Zola seemingly has his team in fine shape as they aim to build upon last season's impressive form.

Birmingham, on the other hand, were a little disjointed in their 1,000th home game in the second tier of league football although they displayed a lot of spirit in the second half when they were unsuccessful in their bid to snatch a point.

Following an early Birmingham onslaught it was Deeney who demonstrated the kind of clinical finishing which made him so outstanding last season.

Birmingham attempted to over-run the Hornets but it was Watford's confidence on the ball which emerged as a feature of the game.

This was shown when Fernando Forestieri played a quick one-two with Deeney, which resulted in the Watford striker guiding home a low right-foot shot to the left of Darren Randolph.

With eight newcomers, none of whom cost a fee, in the ranks, the hosts had to regroup as quickly as possible but it was Watford who slipped effortlessly into the groove to display a high class of football.

Ikechi Anya proved a live-wire on Watford's left and gave Birmingham's big defence a torrid time when in possession.

There was, however, plenty of promising play from Birmingham with the former Inverness midfield man, Andrew Shinnie, in particular showing positive approach in his first ever Championship game.

As Watford gained the upper hand in the closing stages of the first half it was significant that Birmingham had three players, Tom Adeyemi, Dan Burn and skipper Paul Robinson booked for reckless tackles.

Birmingham produced a battling second-half performance but the lack of fire-power against a resolute Watford defence.

Their best goal attempts came from a Wade Elliott effort which clipped the cross bar and a bobbling shot by Burn which goalkeeper Manuel Almunia hastily pushed clear.

Burn, on loan from Fulham, continued to be Birmingham's main threat.

The 6ft 6ins tall central defender moved up for a corner only to see his header fly just wide in a hectic finish which saw Watford hanging on grimly to their slender lead.

Tempers became a little frayed and Lee Novak became the fourth Birmingham player to receive a yellow card as the hosts grew frustrated by their inability to obtain a face saving equaliser.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice