Watford seal first win under interim boss Cleverley


Tom Cleverley celebrated his first match in interim charge of Watford with three points thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win against strugglers Birmingham.

Emmanuel Dennis’ 44th-minute strike, following an error from the home side, proved enough for Watford to leave St Andrew’s with maximum points.

The Hornets steer further clear of the relegation zone and leave Birmingham embedded in the battle to stay up.

Blues made a bright start to the match, applying early pressure on the Watford defence, and Koji Miyoshi dragged wide the hosts’ first chance of the match.

Emmanuel Dennis celebrates after scoring for Watford at Birmingham
Image:
Emmanuel Dennis celebrates after scoring for Watford at Birmingham

Ethan Laird then narrowly flicked over Juninho Bacuna’s near-post corner before Bacuna found space in the penalty area and had a goal-bound shot blocked.

An energised Birmingham side continued to press for the breakthrough and Bacuna again had a shot blocked inside the penalty area when well placed.

Watford managed to momentarily threaten the Blues goal when Tom Dele-Bashiru curled a left-footed effort over the crossbar.

A second corner fashioned another chance for the hosts as Daniel Bachmann was forced to dive across his goal line and claim an Emanuel Aiwu header.

Birmingham were the masters of their own downfall as they gifted Watford the opening goal.

Aiwu could not control Cody Drameh’s throw-in across his own penalty area and Dennis got the better of the defender before finishing ruthlessly past John Ruddy.

The goal lifted the visitors and Dennis forced Ruddy into a smart low save to deny the striker a quick second goal before half-time.

Watford started the second half the brighter of the two sides and Lee Buchanan had to clear a Mattie Pollock effort off the line before Yaser Asprilla’s shot was cleared over the crossbar.

Birmingham managed to get back into the ascendency and Ivan Sunjic had a good chance to draw the hosts level.

Jay Stansfield drove forward and Sunjic picked up the loose ball in the penalty area but sliced a shot wide from close range.

Blues continued to search for an equaliser and Bachmann made an excellent save to beat away Miyoshi’s drive at goal after an initial effort from Aiwu was blocked.

Substitute Vakoun Bayo nearly made an instant impact for the visitors as his stretching shot flashed across Ruddy’s goal and wide.

Miyoshi spurned another opportunity for the hosts as they continued to apply the pressure on the Watford defence.

Tyler Roberts had a late chance on goal, but Bachmann got down well to save and preserve the points for the visitors.

The managers

Birmingham’s Mark Venus:

To follow…

Watford’s Tom Cleverley:

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