Match ends, Watford 1, Birmingham City 0.
Troy Deeney's 13th goal of the season helped Watford to a narrow victory over Birmingham at Vicarage Road.
The striker, a boyhood Blues fan, scored the winner in the first half after being set up by Fernando Forestieri.
The Hornets shaded the contest - having a strong penalty appeal turned down in the first half and seeing a Forestieri header cleared off the line.
Birmingham went closest when Paul Caddis hit a post from 30 yards out.
Victory sees Giuseppe Sannino's 13th-placed side move to within nine points of the play-off places with a game in hand on sixth-placed Reading, while Birmingham are 18th.
Lee Clark's men came close to taking a surprise lead in the seventh minute when Chris Burke's cross almost crept under the crossbar before, at the other end, Federico Macheda appeared to handle Daniel Tozser's corner in the box.
Caddis rattled an upright with a rasping long-range shot before Watford took the lead - Deeney's deflected shot at the second attempt beating Darren Randolph after good work from Forestieri.
Birmingham narrowly had the better of the second half but struggled to truly test Manuel Almunia.
With the visitors pressing forward, Forestieri's header was cleared off the line from another Tozser corner before the Blues were denied a late leveller when Aaron Martin headed a long free-kick forward narrowly wide.
Watford coach Beppe Sannino:
"I'm not watching the table at the moment. What I am watching is match after match.
"We have to start to think about the next game against Middlesbrough, this game belongs to the past.
"I think in the first half we were the better side on the pitch. We conceded one shot on goal when they hit the bar but I think, I'm not blaming anybody, but I think in the box for us there were a couple of times when maybe we deserved to have something. "
Birmingham boss Lee Clark:
"We deserved something from the game without a shadow of a doubt. Our second-half performance was very, very good.
"First half I had too many regrets. I know we hit the post a couple of times from long-range efforts but we didn't put them under enough pressure.
"We had some great set-play deliveries from the best player on the pitch by a million miles, Emyr Huws, the stand-out performer and we had some terrific situations from his set-plays but we played too much tippy-tappy football at the back and not getting the ball forward and playing in Watford's half."
- 6EkstrandSubstituted forDoyleyat 18'minutes
- 8MerkelSubstituted forBellerínat 83'minutesBooked at 84mins
- 11ForestieriBooked at 90mins
- 7BattocchioSubstituted forMurrayat 63'minutes
- 10HowardSubstituted forLovenkrandsat 75'minutes
- 24AdeyemiSubstituted forNovakat 75'minutes
- 35RusnakSubstituted forBrownat 46'minutes
- Mark Haywood
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Watford 1, Birmingham City 0.
Attempt missed. Will Packwood (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Darren Randolph following a set piece situation.
Fernando Forestieri (Watford) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.
Hand ball by Fernando Forestieri (Watford).
Foul by Paul Robinson (Birmingham City).
Fernando Forestieri (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Marco Cassetti.
Héctor Bellerín (Watford) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.
Hand ball by Héctor Bellerín (Watford).
Substitution, Watford. Héctor Bellerín replaces Alexander Merkel.
Lee Novak (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Lloyd Doyley (Watford).
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Marco Cassetti (Watford) because of an injury.
Reece Brown (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alexander Merkel (Watford).
Attempt blocked. Fernando Forestieri (Watford) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Tözsér with a cross.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Paul Caddis.
Substitution, Birmingham City. Lee Novak replaces Tom Adeyemi.