Birmingham 0 - 1 Watford Match Report.
Watford beat Birmingham City 1-0 at St Andrews on the opening day of the Championship season thanks to a Troy Deeney goal in the 11th Minute. The Hornets had to defend well during the second half as Birmingham huffed and puffed for an equaliser but to no avail as a brilliant performance by Captain Manuel Almunia and members of the Hornets back three meant that the Hornets retained their lead and gained the three points. Gianrfranco Zola gave debuts to four of his new summer signings. Gabrielle Angella lined up in the heart of the back three alongside Lloyd Doyley and Marco Cassetti, Iriney and Lewis Mcgugan joined Almen Abdi in centre midfield whilst Marco Davide Faroni played at Right Wing Back. Fellow new signings Javier Acuna and Diego Fabbrini were named amongst the substitues. Lee Clark included 8 of his summer signings in his starting lineup for Birmingham. Goalkeeper Darren Randolph, Defenders Dan Burn and Kyle Bartley, Wing Back Neil Eardley, Midfielders Tom Adeyemi and Andrew Shinnie and new strikers Matt Green and Lee Novak. The opening 10 minutes of the match were open and fast paced but their were no clear cut chances. However, in the 11th minute, the Hornets took the lead in what was their's and the games first effort on target. Lewis Mcgugan picked up the ball out by the byline and passed it to Troy Deeney who played a one-two with Fernando Forestieri before racing into the box and placing a right footed first time effort into the bottom corner giving Darren Randolph no chance in the Birmingham goal. This was Deeneys first goal of the season and the striker has picked up from where he left off last season. In the 23rd minute, the Hornets had a scare and Birmingham should have equalised. Andrew Shinni played a teasing cross from the right into the box however luckily for the Hornets no one was their to meet the ball meaning Marco Faraoni could put the ball behind. Shane Ferguson then did the same job but this time for Birmingham when he tapped the ball out of play when under no pressure after Lewis Mcgugan had pumped a cross into the area. Mcgugan then tested Darren Randolph in the Birmingham goal in the 35th minute but goalie easily smothered the ball. A minute later and the Hornets had another scare. Marco Cassetti headered a Long Birmingham Ball towards the Hornets goal and luckily the ball just went over the goal with goalkeeper Manuel Almunia stranded. Ex Watford player Paul Robinson was booked just before half time after a cruncing tackle on Almen Abdi 25 yards from goal. Referee Paul Tierney awarded the Hornets a free kick. From the resulting free kick, Lewis Mcgugan curled an effort towards goal but Darren Randolph managed to excellently save. A few minutes later and the Birmingham goalkeeper was at it again this time saving from Lloyd Doyley's 25 yard effort.
Half Time- 0 -1
In the 53rd Minute, Lloyd Doyley had to make a good block to divert Wade Elliots shot towards goal. The Hornets had goalkeeper Manuel Almuna to thank when the the Hornets captain magnifecently pushed Wade Elliots deflected shot on to the cross bar. The Hornets captain was at it again from the resulting corner when he saved Dan Burns close range header. Gianfranco Zola made a double substitution in the 68th minute when Diego Fabbrini and Cristian Battochio came on for Fernando Forestieri and Lewis McGugan. Fabbrini drew a decent save from Darren Randolph in the 72nd minute when shooting inside Birminghams penatly area. Watford made another subsitituion in the 75th minute when Daniel Pudil replaced Ikechi Anya who went off due to injury. Kyle Bartley went close for Birmingham inside the final ten minutes but his header went just wide. Watford had to defend well during the final ten minutes to makesure that they held on for Victory after Birmingham pressurised for an equaliser. But their efforts were to no avail as the Hornets ran out 1-0 winners after six minutes of added time.
Full Time - 0-1
Birmingham - Randolph(GK), Bartley, Burn, Robinson (C), Eardley, Adeyemi, Elliot, Shinnie, Ferguson (Burke 81), Novak, Green ( Allan 74)
Subs Not Used - Doyle (GK), Mullins, Arthur, Reilly, Lee
Booked - Robinson, Burn, Adeyemi, Novak.
Watford - Almunia (GK)(C), Doyley, Angella, Cassetti, Faraoni, Iriney, Mcgugan (Battochio 68), Abdi, Anya (Pudil 75), Forestieri (Fabbrini 68), Deeney.
Subs Not Used - Bond (GK), Ekstrand, Acuna, Smith
Booked - Battochio
Goals - Deeney (11)
Possesion - 42% Birmingham, 58% Watford.
Referee - Paul Tierney.
Attendance - 18,830 (2701 Watford Fans)