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Valentine strike secures final berth

Nadi midfielder and free kick specialist William Valentine was the hero when he slammed in the winner in the extra spell after both teams were locked 2-2.#Both teams started the match cautiously and failed to produce any goal.#The second half was full of drama as both teams playing in heavy underfoot conditions in front of more than 7000 fans that braved the wet weather in Nausori.#Labasa got in the score sheet first after an own goal by Nadi in the 60th minute after Labasa marksman Ravinesh Karan Singh was on his way to score.#The Johan Leewai coached-side continued bombarding the Nadi defencee and seven minutes later young striker Ratu Anare doubled Labasa’s advantage with a powerful drive.#Nadi coach Joseph Nand made some positional changes which put Labasa under pressure and Labasa goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva was tested several times.#Nadi kept the pressure on despite being 2-0 down and in the 72nd minute Labasa defender Leone Damudamu handled the ball in the penalty box and referee Rakesh Chandra didn’t hesitate to award a penalty to Nadi.#Captain Napolioni Qasevakatini stood up to take the spot kick and scored their first goal.#Labasa started to play defensively but lack of concentration in the 80th minute saw a beautiful run on the left flank by Lekima Gonerau as he sped past four defenders and neatly passed the ball to Ame Votaniu who did not make any mistake to tap the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Mateisuva to take the match into extra time.#Nand’s dream of playing in his first ever final came after Valentine scored the winner just from right-hand edge of the penalty box which gave goalkeeper Mataisuva no chance of stopping it.#Nand said his players were told to keep their composure and opportunities would come their way.#”I knew Labasa would come out firing and I told the boys to play according to our game plan and it paid off. We had planned to maintain possession, but the conditions did not allow us to play well,” he said.#Labasa coach eewai said it was not the end of the road for them.#”It is hard to take words out, but my players played their hearts out and I hope they have also made the fans back home proud,” he said.#”We have to shift our focus and prepare for the remainder of the season.”#Nadi last played in the final in 2014 at the same venue when they defeated Suva 1-0.#Nadi: Vereti Dickson, Mataiasi Toma, Tony Tuivuna, Anish Khem, William Valentine, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke, Ilimotama Jese, Ame Votoniu, Lekima Gonerau, Napolioni Qasevakatini (C) Eliki Rovasa#Labasa: Akuila Mateisuva, Edwin Sahayam, Ravinesh Karan Singh, Leone Damudamu, Krsihneel Krishna, Ilisoni Logaivou, Taione Kerevanua, Ilisoni Lolaivalu, Taniela Waqa (C) , Ratu Anare, Akeimi Ralulu#

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