August 07, 2022
Tailevu Naitasiri held champions Lautoka to a 2-2 draw in their Round 16 Digicel Premier League clash at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva today.
The Blues needed a win in the encounter to move to the top of the standing but were taken by surprise as Tailevu Naitasiri started the match in an attacking mode and took two quick shots at goal through Lorima Batirererga Jnr and Mohammed Rasasa.
Tailevu Naitasiri replaced Jone Gukilau with Ratu Roseru in the 16th minute to add speed to their attack.
Captain Jone Naraba scored the opening goal of the match in the 33rd minute after getting a neat feed from Mohammed Naizal.
Lautoka leveled the scores two minutes later through nippy attacker Aporosa Yada.
Batirerega Jnr was sent off in the 41st minute by referee Suraj Prakash for violent conduct.
The teams rested 1-1 at the break.
Lautoka replaced Nigerian marksman Usman Omede at the commencement of the second half with Sakaraia Naisua while Abhishek Deo took the field in place of Ryan Chandra.
Yada scored the second goal for Lautoka in the 56th minute after using his pace and skills well to beat the defence and tap the ball to the left of goalkeeper Jason Rokovucake.
Tailevu Naitasiri’s never say die attitude saw them press the Lautoka defence with long crosses and a foul inside the box by Epeli Leiroti awarded them a penalty in the 72nd minute.
Naizal rose to the occasion and took a low shot which was saved by the keeper but he was lucky to find the net with the rebound.
Striker Sairusi Nalaubu threatened with some quick runs and powerful shots but Rokovucake made timely saves to ensure they walk away with a vital one point which keeps their survival hopes alive.
Lautoka now has 29 points after 16 appearances and remains in second place while Tailevu Naitasiri remains in ninth place with 11 points.
Tailevu Naitasiri- Jasono Rokovucake, Lorima Batirerega Jnr, Ryan Chandra (Abhishek Deo), Mohammed Naizal, Prashant Chand, Mohammed Rasasa, Jone Naraba (C) (Martin Nasova), Rusiate Qio, Kirtesh Prasad, Jone Gukilau (Ratu Roseru), Asaeli Tunidau.
Lautoka- Joela Biuvanua, Epeli Leiroti, Zibraaz Sahib, Afraz Ali, Aporosa Yada, Edward Aaron (Manasa Nawakula), Muni Shivam Naidu, Sairusi Nalaubu, Kolinio Sivoki (C), Usman Omede (Sakaraia Naisua), Junior Dekedeke (Sekove Loma).
By Reginald Chandar