If West Bromwich Albion again miss out on promotion this season, it is unlikely to be down to a shortage of goals. Last season's losing play-off finalists went second by taking a heavy toll yesterday of opponents whose manager, John Gregory, faces an uncertain future amid the impending change of ownership.
Queen's Park Rangers remain the only club in all four divisions without a victory, while Albion are now the country's top scorers after Ishmael Miller and Kevin Phillips found this the perfect stage on which to impress. Separated by the small matter of 14 years and 427 senior appearances, they may initially appear the classic combination of brawn and guile. There is much more than hired muscle, though, about the 20-year-old junior partner, who had found his way sufficiently blocked at Manchester City to be loaned out for the season.
He is a major threat with the ball on his left foot and in his stride and disturbed Rangers greatly throughout, making one and scoring one in the space of 60 seconds just past the quarter-hour. "Play the ball into them and it sticks," said the Albion manager, Tony Mowbray, of his strikers. "Kevin is at the front of everything in training and gets his rewards on the field. He's the shining example of practising good habits."
Phillips had already seen Damion Stewart deny him one tap-in from his colleague's approach work and Martin Rowlands cleared his shot off the line before he turned in from two yards after Miller again surged past Zesh Rehman. The compliment was returned when Rangers were caught awfully square for Miller to race on to Phillips's pass and slot under the advancing Lee Camp.
Even in this scintillating performance, Albion also showed their dreamier side, one of several switch-off moments enabling Gareth Ainsworth to slide in at the far post after Dexter Blackstock nodded back Rowlands' free-kick.
The comfortable cushion was re-established before the break through Phillips's nonchalant, high-class, right-foot curler when picked out by Jonathan Greening in the corner of the area and there was any number of near misses before the job was completed by the three-quarter mark.
First, the stylish Robert Koren lashed left-footed into the roof of the net after Camp saved from the clean-through Phillips. Then Greening, also on his weaker foot, bettered it by smacking a first-time volley beyond a shell-shocked keeper from 25 yards.
Gregory subsequently ran the gauntlet of taunting Albion fans, but has been told he will have the chance to shape the side's future. "You just have to believe what people tell you," he said. "We found it very difficult to live with Albion and are not bristling with confidence."
Goals: Phillips (17) 1-0; Miller (18) 2-0; Ainsworth (24) 2-1; Phillips (39) 3-1; Koren (57) 4-1; Greening (66) 5-1.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Hoefkens, Barnett, Albrechtsen, Robinson; Morrison, Koren, Greening (Gera, 67), Teixeira (Brunt, 63); Phillips (Beattie, 67), Miller. Substitutes not used: Steele (gk), Pele.
Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Camp; Rehman (Curtis, h-t), Cullip, Stewart, Barker (Bignot, 60); Ainsworth, Rowlands, Bolder, Moore; Blackstock, Sahar (Ephraim, 60). Substitutes not used: Cole (gk), Timoska.
Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay).
Booked: QPR Curtis, Rowlands.
Man of the match: Ishmael Miller.
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