Blues were comprehensively beaten by an impressive Watford side on Saturday afternoon.
Gianfranco Zola’s team were arguably the best npower Championship side to visit St. Andrew’s so far this season and it is no wonder they are one of the promotion favourites.
The Hornets struck twice towards the end of the first half, before they hit two more in the second – one just after the hour mark and one in the 89th minute.
Lee Clark made two changes to his starting XI, with Wes Thomas and Peter Lovenkrands in for Marlon King and Callum Reilly respectively. King was missing because of a knock and Reilly was dropped to the subs' bench.
Watford started the game on the front foot and almost had Blues in trouble with just a minute played.
A sloppy pass from Morgaro Gomis was intercepted by Troy Deeney. Fortunately the Hornets' number nine failed to make the most of his surging run into the box and Steven Caldwell forced him to knock the ball out for a Blues goal-kick.
The game was continuing at a fair lick, with challenges flying in from both sides.
On ten minutes Jack Butland needed to be alert to save low down from Ikechi Anya after the Watford man was allowed space to fire off a shot from the edge of the area.
Full-back Paul Robinson was cautioned for a strong challenge on Almen Abdi with just 17 minutes played.
Blues were then given a major scare when the powerful Deeney headed a corner ball just inches wide of Butland’s far post.
Clark’s men were struggling to get a foothold in the game and the visitors were looking a constant threat going forward. Matej Vydra tested Butland with a 20-yard effort, which the Blues stopper managed to hold at the second attempt.
Blues came close to breaking the deadlock when Burke cut in from the right by-line and drilled a low ball just a yard in front of the goal-line. But with Thomas looking odds-on to tap the ball home it was cleared away from the danger zone by a Watford defender.
Butland was continuing to have a busy afternoon and he needed to use his legs to deny Abdi from just six yards out.
An excellent piece of skill from Thomas found the Blues front man in a yard of space on the edge of the Watford box. He turned and curled a great effort just over the bar.
But less than a minute later Gianfranco Zola’s side found themselves a goal in front. Anya crossed a sweet ball deep into the Blues penalty box, where Deeney was unmarked and able to head the ball down and into the back of Butland’s net.
Disaster struck on 44 minutes as Blues found themselves two goals behind. Anya cut in from the right and somehow his powerful shot evaded Butland, with the keeper looking odds-on to save it.
Half-time: Blues 0 Watford 2
Blues made a really positive start to the second half and Lovenkrands saw his header towards goal deflected behind for a corner.
Then two minutes later Watford keeper Manuel Almunia was forced to scramble the Dane’s close-range shot behind
Blues were now enjoying by far their best spell of the game and following a goalmouth scramble Lovenkrands saw his close-range shot deflected behind.
As the hour mark approached Thomas was just an inch away from getting his side back into the match. Paul Caddis sent in a fine low cross from the right which just evaded Thomas’s boot with an open goal at his mercy.
Clark made his first substitution on 60 minutes when Nathan Redmond replaced Rob Hall.
Unfortunately it was game over for Blues just two minutes later as Watford raced into a three goal lead.
To be fair to the Hornets it was the perfect breakaway goal. Vydra raced clear from inside his own half and ran some 50 yards before passing it to Anya. Anya squared it and of course it was boyhood Blues fan Deeney who was there to side foot it home past Butland.
Despite the game arguably being beyond them, Blues continued to press forward. Curtis Davies fired a shot just wide and then Almunia produced a fine save to deny Lovenkrands’ header.
Lovenkrands had a great shout for a penalty after being wrestled over by Adam Thompson, but referee Craig Pawson was presumably in the wrong position and missed it. he was booked for his resultant appeals to the official.
With just a minute of normal time remaining Watford compounded Blues’ misery with a fourth goal as Abdi slammed the ball home from 20 yards.
Blues now return to home soil on Tuesday with another tough test against Sheffield Wednesday.
Full-time: Blues 0 Watford 4
Blues: Jack Butland, Paul Caddis, Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell, Paul Robinson (Mitch Hancox, 65), Chris Burke, Wade Elliott, Morgaro Gomis, Rob Hall (Nathan Redmond, 60), Wes Thomas, Peter Lovenkrands.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Hayden Mullins, Jonathan Spector, Ravel Morrison, Callum Reilly.
Bookings: Robinson (18), Lovenkrands (76).
Watford: Manuel Almunia, Marco Cassetti, Nyron Nosworthy, Lloyd Doyley, Ikechi Anya (Sean Murray, 73), Almen Abdi, Nathaniel Chalobah, Cristian Battocchio, Daniel Pudil (Adam Thompson, 65), Troy Deeney, Matej Vydra (Jonathan Hogg, 84).
Subs not used: Jonathan Bond, Mark Yeates, Alexandre Geijo, Fernando Forestieri.
Goals: Deeney (38, 62), Anya (44), Abdi (89).
Attendance: 18, 933 (2,454 Watford fans).
Referee: Craig Pawson