GUTSY Navua went down fighting 0-1 against star studded Ba in the Fiji Sun/Skipper Tuna National Football League at Govind Park yesterday.
The Southerners under the guidance of new coach Kameli Kilawaca showed no signs of their recent administrational problems giving the Men in Black a tough time.
Navua frustrated the Ba attack comprising of Osea Vakatalesau and Mavileko Nakama by crowding their defence with the four-four-two pattern.
A goalkeeping blunder in the 78th minute allowed the hosts to finally penetrate the opposition goal mouth.
The odds were stacked against Navua going into the match after two losses. However the side proved that they would be no pushover under the new regime after the resignation of president Faud Anwar and coach Mohammed Shafeel earlier this week.
Ba, the Pillay Garments Champion versus Champion (CVC) winner was a far cry from the team that defeated Nadi to take the title for the 18th time last week.
Goalkeeper Sheik Moshin stood out for Navua until the blemish in the 78th minute.
Moshin fumbled a drive from outside the box. The ball fell in the path of Vakatalesau who beat two defenders and laid a perfectly timed low cross for an oncoming Ronil Kumar to slot the ball into an empty nett.
Earlier Moshin made a frantic diving save to block Nakama's close range strike.
Navua also had chances of scoring with Mohit Chand coming close midway in the second spell after his attempted curler bounced off the cross bar.
Ba coach Yogendra Dutt admitted that the three-match CVC series had taken its toll on his players.
Dutt said they needed more recovery time.
"One must understand that after the three CVC games this would have been expected," he said.
"We have to understand the body system. The boys gave their all in the CVC because the title was at stake.
"There is need for a lot of recovery. Playing week in week out, the fatigue factor will set in.
"The players need time to get back their fitness."
Kilawaca praised his players for a gallant performance against the defending champions.
"It was a very good performance from the players," he said.
"We have to work more on how the boys communicate especially in defence.
"They were ball watching and Ba scored. But we take a lot of positives from this loss."
The match was delayed by 45 minutes after Navua's bus broke down in Sigatoka.
Ba: Epeli Codro, Josefata Neibuli, Jone Vesikula, Remueru Takiate, Aisea Codro, Avinesh Suwamy, Ronil Kumar, Meli Codro, Abbu Zaheed Shaheed, Osea Vakatalesau, Mavileko Nakama.
Navua: Sheik Moshin, Iliesa Lino, Rajnil Chand, Simione Maikali, Nasir Hussein, Rajnesh Raju, Simione Damuni, Akesh Kumar, Monit Chand, Netani Doli, Inia Boko.