New Birmingham manager Gary Rowett enjoyed a perfect home debut as striker Clayton Donaldson scored twice to secure a deserved victory in front of the biggest crowd of the season at St Andrew’s, who witnessed only a second home league win from their side in more than a year.
Former Burton manager Rowett, who had two years as a Birmingham player, took his place in the home technical area to a rapturous welcome, having taken charge of a side beaten 8-0 by Bournemouth on their last home appearance.But it was Donaldson who was the star of the evening, giving Birmingham a second-minute lead before coming up with a winner five minutes from time.
Birmingham delivered the perfect start for Rowett, taking the lead after only 81 seconds, Donaldson finishing a move in which he had already been involved in by stretching to meet a low Stephen Gleeson cross and stabbing the ball past Heurelho Gomes with the help of a deflection off Joel Ekstrand.
It was an advantage they could keep for less than five minutes, however. Watford left-back Lloyd Doyley advanced along the left and found Fernando Forestieri, who saw his first shot blocked by Darren Randolph before successfully following it up into the far corner.
Yet the home side created more chances and arguably should have regained the lead before half-time. Gomes had to make saves from a David Cotterill free-kick and a well struck shot by Gleeson, although their clearest opportunity was missed when Andy Shinnie headed into the ground and wide.
Watford occasionally looked dangerous, though, as was to be expected from a side at the opposite end of the table to Rowett’s new charges and it took a stunning save from Randolph to push Troy Deeney’s rasping drive over the bar.
There was plenty of energy in evidence from the home side and they were close to scoring a second goal when Arthur’s cross flew past Gomes and had to be booted out of the six-yard box by Tommie Hoban.
Their drive was rewarded after 85 minutes when Donaldson rose to meet a superb Cotterill cross with a powerful header past Gomes to bring the crowd to its feet, dealing Watford a first defeat in 10 matches.
Birmingham City (4-1-4-1): Randolph; Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds; Gleeson; Arthur (Gray, 74), Shinnie (Thomas, 79), Davis, Cotterill; Donaldson. Substitutes not used: Doyle, Eardley, Edgar, Shea, Reilly.
Watford (4-1-3-2): Gomes; Paredes, Hoban, Ekstrand, Doyley; Tozser; Ighalo (Ighalo, 59), McGugan, Anya; Forestieri (Vydra, 75), Deeney. Substitutes not used: Bond, Cathcart, Murray, Pudil, Dyer.
Referee: M Heywood (West Yorkshire)Reuse content