Lucky Blues

PENI Finau scored at the death to earn Lautoka a 1-all draw against defending champions Ba during the Courts Inter District Championship at Churchill Park yesterday.

Finau who was signed up from Nadroga in the last transfer window was at the right place at the right time to nod home a high cross past Ba goalkeeper Misiwani Narube late in injury time.

It was a tactical change by Blues coach Lambert Sarju which proved fruitful.

Finau a natural defender came on as a substitute for Rusiate Matarerega who failed to find his form after being heavily marked by the Ba defenders.

Ba scored in the third minute through Jone Vesikula as the Lautoka players stood ball watching waiting for an offside call which never came.

Ba could have doubled the advantage early in the second spell but Avinesh Waran Suwamy’s drive was cleared off the line by Zibraaz Sahib.

Ba defender Praneel Naidu was sent off by referee Andrew Achari after being booked twice for fouls.

Fiji under-20 coach Ravinesh Kumar, who is guiding Ba at the IDC, said Lautoka put on a strong performance.

“It was an interesting match but I’m very happy with how the boys played,” he said.

“They kept the possession but at times we got under pressure because we were down by a player.

“Discipline is one area that we have to work on. Looking at Praneel’s second caution, I think it was an accident and he did not deserve a card. We will now look at the recovery of the players.”

Levi Tawake stood in for Lautoka’s first choice goalkeeper Senirusi Bokini in the fixture. Bokini has been stood down from the squad for breaching the team camp rules.

Sarju said Ba’s early goal put them on the backfoot.

He said his ploy to use Finau in attack worked in their favour.

“I told the boys at halftime that there was another 45 minutes left and to believe in themselves,” Sarju said.

“In the second half we pushed more players in attack. We missed a few chances but then scored in the last minute.

“Peni did the job. It was a technical change because I had told Peni that if he would get game time then it would be upfront.”

The IDC resumes at the ANZ Stadium in Suva on Thursday.

The winner will receive $15,000.

Ba: Misiwani Nairube, Avinesh Suwamy, Praneel Naidu, Ronil Kumar, Jone Vesikula, Samuela Nabenia, Manasa Nawakula, Remueru Takiate, Kiniviliame Naika, Shameel Rao, Laisenia Naioko.

Lautoka: Levi Tawake, Zibraaz Sahib, Rusiate Matarerega, Shiron Naidu, Arvindra Naidu, Edward Justin, Kavaia Rawaqa, Isikeli Jeke, Alvin Avinesh, Isikeli Jeke, Jone Vonu.