A tale of pies and prejudice in the Black Country saw West Bromwich Albion pen another chapter in their modern ascendancy over Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday. Albion repeated the score from the Championship meeting in October - their biggest victory over Wolves for 25 years - while their fans won the Molineux song contest with equal ease.
The superiority of Tony Mowbray's team was already conspicuous before their strikers, Diomansy Kamara and Kevin Phillips, created goals for one another either side of half-time. Zoltan Gera added a late third, and Wolves' despair was compounded by the sight of 5,300 Albion followers lording it over them on the South Bank.
The stand is normally a gold-and-black bastion, but Wolves opted to house Albion's supporters there rather than in the lower Steve Bull Stand and a corner of the South Bank. They then dug themselves into a deeper hole by offering outraged season-ticket holders "a pie and a pint" in compensation.
As the goals rained in, the gloating began. "You sold your seats for a pie and a pint," the visitors crowed. They also drew applause from what remained of the fast-departing home faithful by chanting cheekily for the head of Jez Moxey, the unpopular chief executive deemed by many to be behind Wolves' PR gaffe.
Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, insisted that neither Moxey nor Uriah Rennie, a referee who ranks high in their fans' demonology, had any bearing on the result. They had lost to a better side, albeit from a club with greater resources. "I'm not happy about it," he said, "but I'm going to have to accept it."
Mowbray conceded Albion had often disappointed in away games since his autumn arrival from Hibernian, but this was their second consecutive win on the road, each producing three goals. "It comes down to the balance of the team and today it was as good as I've seen it," he added. "We might have turned a corner."
Albion's manager highlighted Kamara's contribution with a flurry of coaching jargon. "He is what I call asset-rich," Mowbray said of the Senegalese striker known in the squad as "Joe" and among opposing defenders as the Championship's equivalent of Thierry Henry. "He has excellent ball-manipulation, pace, directness and strength."
It was, however, a collective triumph. Neil Clement was not singled out for praise, yet his last-gasp tackle on Craig Davies and block on Seyi Olofinjana's shot ensured Wolves gained no advantage from a deceptively even start to the contest.
Albion, by far the more fluid unit, could have scored through Kamara and the irrepressible Jason Koumas before going in front just before half-time. By charging down Jackie McNamara's shot in the Albion box, Kamara launched a counter- attack. He continued it by racing on to Phillips' header inside his own half and finished it by holding off Mark Little, rounding Matt Murray and walking in his 15th goal of the season.
McCarthy boldly made two half-time changes, one of which brought in his new striker from Bohemians, Stephen Ward. Almost before the substitutes had broken sweat, Kamara ran at Wolves' defence before finding Phillips, who turned and fired his 12th goal of the campaign with the help of a deflection off Neil Collins.
Wolves wasted a chance for a rousing finale when Michael McIndoe headed fresh air rather than the ball from Mark Davies' 67th-minute free-kick. A goal would have flattered them, and Albion underlined their mastery with another goal.
Within five minutes of coming on, Gera converted Koumas' corner with a header before celebrating with a double somersault in front of an all-singing, all-bouncing, all blue-and-white South Bank. For Albion, it was as easy as pie.
Goals: Kamara (44) 0-1; Phillips (49) 0-2; Gera (78) 0-3.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-1-1): Murray; Little, Collins, Breen, McNamara; Ricketts (M Davies, h-t), Henry, Potter, McIndoe; Olofinjana (Johnson, 57); Craig Davies (Ward, h-t). Substitutes not used: Budtz (gk), Edwards.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Zuberbühler; McShane, Curtis Davies, Clement, Robinson; Koumas, Chaplow, Greening, Koren (Gera, 73); Kamara (Carter, 84), Phillips. Substitutes not used: Daniels (gk), Nicholson, Hodgkiss.
Referee: U Rennie (South Yorkshire).
Booked: Wolves Little; West Bromwich Kamara, Zuberbühler, Clement.
Man of the match: Kamara.
Attendance: 28,107.Reuse content