Labasa has shot back to the top of the New World Super Six points table after a 2-1 win over Suva on a wet National Stadium on Sunday.
The Babasiga Lions, who lost a protest to Rewa on Wednesday, have all to do if it is to retain the Super Six title.
Labasa’s Taione Bola made an impressive debut for the Lions. Bola is a Form Five student of Labasa Sangam College, and was ably assisted by another 17-year-old Amani Makoe.
The northerners were the more dominant team from the opening whistle, and the duo played a key role. Vodafone Labasa management said they were giving a break to their young players.
Labasa took the lead in the third minute, when Sandip Nair placed the ball past new Suva goalkeeper, Josese Sahib.
Sahib is the son of former national development officer, Hussein Sahib, and younger brother of Labasa’s Mira Sahib.
Labasa could have scored a lot more goals, but their strikers failed to meet the target.
After the restart, it was the same scenario, as the visitors kept on the pressure. Josese was at fault for the second goal, as he bundled a Kushal Naicker cross into his own goal. The young goalie had collected the ball, only to spill it into his own goalmouth.
Suva managed to pull one goal back after Taniela Waqa fouled Semiata Chilla in the penalty box. Chillia scored from the penalty spot.
Suva had lost 2-0 to Rewa in a mid week clash, with Marika Rodu and Posiano Kalisito scoring for the Delta Tigers in the match.
In another match, Lautoka beat Nadi 2-0. Marika Madigi proved to be the nemesis for his former district, scoring both goals for the Blues.
Lautoka fielded a young side with their biggest signing of the season Valerio Nawatu ($17,000) warming the bench.
Other regulars including Semesa Nakosia, Solomoni Niulevu, Niumaia Tagi, Salesh Sami, Madre Varan and Isikeli Seva were not even on the reserves list.
Lautoka coach Dennis Singh’s gamble of starting with three schoolboys, Ratu Inia Bainivalu, Samu Drudru and Isimeli Jeke proved fruitful.
Nadi goalkeeper Benaminio Mateinaqara failed to judge a high cross in the eighth minute allowing Blues striker Isimeli Naresia to head the ball towards the goalmouth.
Mateinaqara then fumbled the header with Madigi at the right spot to tap in easily. Madigi doubled Lautoka’s advantage in the opening minutes of the second spell. He slammed the ball from an acute angle which ricocheted off the post and a Nadi defender to go in.
Lautoka dominated the match in the second spell and could have posted a higher winning margin had the strikers been on target.
Muele Vuti, Jone Vono Junior and Naresia all had clear chances but could not score. Singh said the new players will take some time to adapt to the high level of football.
In the Bottom Four, as own goal from Nadroga defence in the second half prevented them from causing an upset over Navua, which was laced with past and present and national reps, as the two the team drew 2-2 on Saturday.
Solomon Islander, Aldrine Kilua’s last minute goal steered Nasinu out of relegation danger following a 2-2 draw against 10-man Farmers Tavua at Garvey Park.
Super Six Standings: