October 07, 2016
Veteran Peni Finau’s second half strike has put Lautoka into the semifinals of the 2016 Courts Inter District Championship (IDC) and booted host Suva out of the tournament.
The match which was crucial for both teams proved to be one of the most exciting and thrilling encounters of the tournament.
Suva just needed a draw to progress while Lautoka had to win at any cost to accompany Labasa to the last four from Group A.
The Blues opted to bench Samuela Drudru and Valerio Nawatu and fielded Ratu Josefata Dugucagi and Finau in the forwards.
Suva on the other hand pushed Filipe Baravilala and Madhawan Goundar in defence and kept their midfield crowded.
Whites goalkeeper Tevita Koroi was called to action on a couple of occasions in the first half as Lautoka looked desperate to get on the score-sheet.
The teams rested goal-less at halftime and this made the second spell more exciting and thrilling as Suva toiled hard to keep their goalmouth protected while Lautoka threw out everything in the fire to get the winning goal.
Setareki Hughes and Nickel Chand missed two golden opportunities for Suva as the pair was denied on both occasions by goalkeeper Benaminio Mateinaqara.
Lautoka Coach Aginesh Prasad replaced Dugucagi with Drudru and Leisari Qalica with Nawatu and the duo made an instant impact with Drudru finding the back of the net a couple of minutes later but was flagged off-side.
A good through pass in midfield by Captain Jone Vono Junior found Nawatu in space in the 81st minute and his powerful low shot was initially saved by goalkeeper Koroi but the ball sprung out of his hand and landed into the path of Finau who made no mistake with his first time attempt.
Lautoka defender Dave Radrigai who was substituted was flashed a red card on the bench towards the end of the match for uttering comments at the match officials. He was earlier booked for a foul while on the pitch.
With the result, Singh’s Rental Lautoka finished second behind Propeller and Shaft Services sponsored Labasa. Both teams had 5 points but Labasa had a better goal difference.
By Reginald Chandar