Match ends, Watford 1, Birmingham City 0.
Craig Cathcart's stunning goal gave Watford a narrow victory over Birmingham as they moved top of the Championship and ensured automatic promotion is in their own hands.
The 26-year-old defender hit the ball on the volley over his left shoulder into the net from Ikechi Anya's cross.
Matej Vydra was unlucky not to score in the first-half as his shot cannoned off the crossbar.
If the Hornets win their final two games they will be promoted.
The Hornets dominated from the kick-off, as Vydra saw his shot after just two minutes deflected wide.
|Victory today means Watford have won four matches in a row for the first time since the Pozzos took over in June 2012|
A long ball from Birmingham midfielder David Cotterill required a last ditch challenge from Gabriele Angella to prevent Andrew Shinnie from prodding home.
However, the home side continued to control the game and an excellent cross-field ball from Adiene Guedioura was met by Troy Deeney, but his shot was smothered by goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
The ball rebounded to Vydra and the Czech striker's shot into the ground thundered off the crossbar, with many in the crowd left disappointed having been convinced Watford had scored.
Clayton Donaldson almost gave the Blues a shock lead at the start of the second half as he outran Angella and forced Heurelho Gomes into a good save.
But it was Slavisa Jokanovic's substitution of Ikechi Anya for Miguel Layun that broke the deadlock as the winger provided a pinpoint cross for Cathcart to produce a moment of inspiration.
Moments later Abdi's in-swinging corner was met by Angella only for his header to be cleared off the line by Stephen Gleeson.
Nerves began to creep into the home side's game as a few stray passes brought about groans from the crowd, but Vicarage Road erupted into jubilation on the final whistle as Watford took another big step towards promotion with just two matches remaining.
Watford boss Slavisa Jokanovic on making substitutions that led to the goal: "I expected we were going to find more space between the lines. We decided to open the pitch with players in wide positions and from one of these situations we scored the goal.
"We've played a different way many times and my team is prepared for understanding and interpreting. It's not the first time we've played a different structure and today I believe they played a good game under some pressure - but we must enjoy this kind of pressure."
Birmingham boss Gary Rowett: "Our aim was to come and stifle them a little bit, like it so often has been. That's the way we've played since we've come in and we don't feel at the minute we're able to be as expansive as we'd like.
"But we hung on in. We were resilient, we kept going, we showed excellent character and just as we looked as we making the crowd get a little bit nervous, we conceded a very poor goal from a corner."
- 15CathcartBooked at 61mins
- 22AbdiSubstituted forTozserat 85'minutes
- 7LayunSubstituted forAnyaat 54'minutes
- 20VydraSubstituted forIghaloat 55'minutes
- 3GroundsBooked at 58mins
- 13TescheSubstituted forDavisat 45'minutes
- 22ShinnieSubstituted forThomasat 58'minutes
- 33GraySubstituted forNovakat 71'minutes
- Mark Haywood
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Watford 1, Birmingham City 0.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Rob Kiernan.
Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Rob Kiernan (Birmingham City).
Foul by Odion Ighalo (Watford).
Michael Morrison (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Wes Thomas (Birmingham City) because of an injury.
Substitution, Watford. Daniel Tözsér replaces Almen Abdi.
Attempt missed. Rob Kiernan (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by David Cotterill.
Foul by Tommy Hoban (Watford).
Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Offside, Birmingham City. Stephen Gleeson tries a through ball, but Wes Thomas is caught offside.
Ikechi Anya (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Paul Caddis (Birmingham City).
Attempt blocked. Odion Ighalo (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Adlène Guédioura with a headed pass.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Clayton Donaldson.
Odion Ighalo (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Rob Kiernan (Birmingham City).