It turned into a blue night for Reds as their Carabao Cup hopes bit the dust at St Andrew’s.
The meeting of the two managerial Harrys – Kewell and Birmingham’s Redknapp – was a decent contest until Che Adams broke the deadlock in the 29th minute and the home side took control.
David Davis and Adams added further goals before the break and in the second half as Adams completed his hat-trick after Robert Tesche had scored with his first touch after coming on as a half-time substitute.
Reds had the consolation of scoring arguably the best goal of the game when substitute Panutche Camara struck from distance with five minutes to go but the visitors were well beaten on the night.
Harry Kewell had made no fewer than nine changes to Saturday’s line-up for Reds’ fifth encounter with Championship opposition in the competition while his namesake Redknapp included five of the team that lost 1-0 to Ipswich on the opening day.
The pattern for much of the first half was set in the opening five minutes when Birmingham won four corners and both Adams and Davis were just off target with shots at goal.
The hosts, as expected, enjoyed lots of possession but Reds worked their way into the game and created their best chance of the half in the 17th minute when Dean Cox elected to try and find skipper Matt Harrold instead of shooting from 12 yards and Blues cleared.
It was certainly not one-way traffic but Birmingham kept probing away. Davis hit the top of the goal frame after Adams’ cross found him on the stretch before the deadlock was broken in the 29th minute. Reds were caught cold when Davis played Adams in at a quickly-taken free kick and the striker confidently found the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the box.
Tomasz Kuszczak was called into action for the first time when he held a drive from Dennon Lewis, who was making his first Crawley start, then Harrold headed over Cox’s free-kick before Birmingham struck twice in the space of four minutes to stretch their lead.
Adams had just been denied by the post after being found by Davis and lobbing Morris who was grateful to see the ball bounce back into his arms.
But in the 39th minute Davis won the ball in midfield, hurdled a challenge and found the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the post with a powerful shot.
And it got worse for Reds a minute before the break when they failed to clear Jonathan Grounds’ cross and Adams was unmarked at the far post to make it 3-0.
Robert Tesche came on at the break and within three minutes of the re-start had headed in Birmingham’s fourth. There was no pressure on Cotterill as he picked out the midfielder from the right and unmarked headed powerfully past Morris from six yards.
Enzio Boldewijn came on for Kaby Djalo in the 52nd minute as Reds switched to 4-4-2 but it remained one-way traffic. Adams got the ball stuck under his feet inside the six-yard box as he tried to complete his hat-trick then Marc Roberts’ far-post header was cleared off the line by Joe McNerney as the Birmingham defender appealed for handball.
But Adams wasn’t to be denied and he completed his hat-trick midway through the half. Maikel Kieftenbeld’s ball inside the right-hand channel was perfectly weighted for Adams to take it into his stride and fire past Morris.
Reds forced Kuszczak to make his first save with 15 minutes to go when he athletically pushed out a swerving effort at pace from Andre Blackman but Birmingham broke and Morris made as impressive a stop seconds later to deny Cotterill.
But it was Reds who grabbed a consolation near the end. Camara found space 25 yards out, took a couple of paces and then beat Kuszczak from the edge of the box for his first goal at this level – a special moment for the former Dulwich Hamlet youngster and the highlight of the night for the travelling fans he exuberantly celebrated in front of.
Birmingham City: Kuszczak, Nsue (sub: Harding 59), Grounds, Roberts, Robinson; Maghoma, Kieftenbeld, Gleeson, Cotterill; Davis (sub: Tesche 45), Adams (Gardner 70). Unused subs: Stockdale, Donaldson, Ndoye, Morrison.
Reds: Morris; Lewis, McNerney, Yorwerth, Payne, Blackman; Cox, Tajbakhsh (Clifford 61), Djalo (52), Harrold, Sanoh (Camara 71). Unused subs: Mersin, Young, Roberts, Clifford.
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Attendance: 7814 (Crawley 133)