Knights v Roar

Cup report by Michael Brown
New Zealand Knights v Queensland Roar

The Kingz might have been dethroned and laid to rest but there were shades of the underperforming club at North Harbour Stadium last night.

It was the first time the New Zealand public has had a look at the new incarnation and, while Knights coach John Adshead has asked the public for patience as they build for next month's kick-off of the A-League, patience might not be something fans will have a lot of.

Even though it has been a few months, their memories of the Kingz will still be relatively fresh.

More than 3300 turned out to North Harbour Stadium - towards the end of the Kingz' existence crowds fell to less than 1000 - which shows New Zealand football fans are crying out for a good level of the game in this country. What they saw wasn't exactly high quality.

However, it would be wrong to judge the Knights on last night's performance because they have only been together as a full squad for a month.

They will be better than the Kingz, much better, but their lack of time together showed as their combinations looked as rusty as some of their touches against a side rated by most as likely to battle out for the wooden spoon with the Knights.

After carving out the first opportunity of the game inside the first minute, which striker Sean Devine shot straight at the keeper when trying to chip the ball into the net, the Knights conceded two goals in three minutes to find themselves on the back foot.

Royce Brownlie made a static Knights defence look bad as he firstly latched on to a ball from the right and coolly slotted home from 18 yards and then ghosted onto a throughball and poked it beyond the on-rushing keeper Glen Moss.

When the second goal went in, the finger pointing started along with the frustration levels, both on and off the field.

Queensland had promised to bring a 'continental' style of football - they looked the part with their bright orange Dutch-style shirts - and there was no doubt they played with more attacking flair than the direct Knights.

They were more comfortable on the ball and found time and space down the flanks, particularly behind part-time right back Frank van Eijs, and quickly closed the Knights down when on defence.

The Knights did improve, they had to, and it was often on the back of aggressive duo Ronnie Bull and Neil Emblen who tried to spark their team-mates. Emblen headed over with a half-chance before Noah Hickey had a golden opportunity just before the break but volleyed over the bar from eight yards. That was as good as it got.

In fact, the entertainment was of a better quality at halftime as medieval-style riders took to a jousting match. No doubt there would have been some jousting in the dressing room as Adshead let fly with a few home truths.

His side responded as they forged out a few half chances, particularly to Devine, but they couldn't capitalise and fell to pieces in the final 10 minutes as Queensland rattled in three goals through Reece Tollenaere, Warren Moon and Massimo Murdocca.

When the fourth went in from Moon a minute into injury time, the groans rang out and a disappointed crowd headed for the exits. Adshead managed the Impossible Dream with the 1982 All Whites - getting this team on track looms as a Knightmare.