National marksman Sairusi Nalaubu scored a hat-trick of goals in Lautoka’s big 6-1 win against Nadi in a Round 12 fixture of the Digicel Fiji Premier League at Churchill Park on a wet and rainy Saturday evening.
The win see’s the Blues maintain a strong lead in the table with 28 points after nine wins, one draw and two losses.
Lautoka strongly dominated in both halves of the match while Nadi looked hard to find its rhythm in the game.
Nadi secured the first corner kick just five minutes past the clock which William Valentine took but it was cleared away by Epeli Leiroti.
After a strong tussle between the two sides, Nalaubu almost got the opener for Lautoka from a Junior Dekedeke set-piece play in the 20th minute but his powerful strike went over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, lanky midfielder Aporosa Yada opened the account for Lautoka after neatly finishing off a Dekedeke through pass which aging Nadi goalkeeper Vereti Dickson misjudged.
In the 31st minute, match official ruled out a Nalaubu goal after he was caught in an offside position.
No later, Nalaubu proved his scoring form snatching his first goal in the match from a beautiful Yada set up in the 36th minute which left the Nadi goalkeeper and defenders stunned.
The jet setters fought hard trying to make a comeback in the match through youngster Shahil Valentine but he was well contained by Zibraaz Sahib.
The sugar city boys sweetly led by 2-nil at the breather.
Early in the second spell, both teams made a change with Nadi coach Kamal Swamy fielding young Eshan Kumar in place of Eneriko Matau to add more fireplay to their midfield.
On the other hand, Lautoka coach Ronil Kumar sent in rugged defender Antonio Tuivuna to bolster their defence which saw Sitiveni Cauilagi shift up to the striker’s position replacing lanky Saula Waqa.
Soon after, Cavuilagi’s move to the forwards paid dividends to Lautoka when he combined well and assisted Nalaubu to grab his second goal in the 56th minute.
Two minutes later, Yada bagged his second goal stunningly finishing off a through pass which was flicked on by Nalaubu.
All went from bad to worse for Nadi when Cavuilagi sneaked in with a header from a Sahib corner kick in the 59th minute, giving Dickson no chance or whatsoever at all.
Nalaubu scored his hat-trick goal after a one-on-one power play with Dekedeke and rifled the shot after finding Dickson off his guide in the 82nd minute.
In the 84th minute, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke pulled one back for Nadi with a header from an Ame Votonui corner kick.
Meanwhile, Nalaubu keeps a strong grip on the golden boot race with 18 goals to his name.
In another match today, Labasa held Suva 0-0 at Subrail Park.
Nadi FC: Vereti Dickson (GK), Shahil Valentine, William Valentine, Ame Votonui, Siotame Kubu, Pauliasi Tulivou, Christopher Kumar, Eneriko Matau, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke, Tuiba Batiratu, Joshua Tawake.
Lautoka FC: Senirusi Bokini (GK), Epeli Leiroti, Kishan Sami, Ilimotama Jese, Sakaraia Naisua, Aporosa Yada, Zibraaz Sahib, Sitiveni Cavuilagi, Junior Dekedeke, Sairusi Nalaubu, Saula Waqa.