CPL: Hamilton Forge FC secure first victory over Pacific FC

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Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (May 9, 2019) — Forge FC earned their first three points Wednesday night, putting Pacific FC to the sword in a comprehensive 3-0 victory. Throughout the game Forge looked the better side, having more of the ball and doing more with it.

Changes Forced and Unforced

Forge FC took to the field without captain and midfield maestro Kyle Bekker, who was serving the first game of a two-match ban handed down by Canada Soccer. Bekker came in hard and late on York9 FC’s Joseph Di Chiara in the inaugural match, but no foul was called by the referee. The midfielder retained his starting place against HFX Wanderers over the weekend while Canada Soccer deliberated on the case. 

Canadian Premier League leading scorer Kadell Thomas couldn’t get a starting role, with Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis opting to hand debuts to David Choinière and Anthony Novak. Also earning a debut was former Toronto FC and LAFC goalkeeper Quillan Roberts.

Fast Start for Novak

Last season in League1 Ontario, Anthony Novak scored 18 goals for the Oakville Blue Devils, taking home the league’s Golden Boot award. Three minutes into his Canadian Premier League debut, he opened his account hoping to set a similar pace. After beautiful work by Choinière to open up play, Novak received a pass from Daniel Krutzen, skillfully turned his defender and fired a left-footed shot into the far right corner.

All through the game until coming off in the 58th minute, Novak was a tremendous outlet for the Forge FC midfield. While Bekker’s absence was certainly felt, Kwame Awuah did an admirable job linking the midfield and attack. His midfield partners, Elimane Cisse and Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson had excellent games as well, with the latter completing 92 percent of his passes on the night.

Choinière was a handful early in the game, with great skills on full display. His footwork left a few jaws on the floor early in the first half.

It was Choinière who slipped Emery Welshman in on Pacific FC goalkeeper Mark Village. Welshman calmly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to put Forge up 2-0 inside 15 minutes.

What We Have, We Hold

Forge FC pushed to find a third but Pacific held their ground through the first half. Noah Verhoeven saw a lot of the ball in midfield for Pacific FC. However, he had a hard time playing a game-breaking ball towards Issey Nakajima-Farran or Terran Campbell in the attack. Campbell hit the post with a rasping left footed strike in the 18th minute, but that was probably the closest the visitors came to scoring.

In the 70th minute, Forge added a third goal and put the three points out of reach. Daniel Krutzen whipped in a magnificent corner and Giuliano Frano was on hand to nod home at the back post. Frano wore the armband in Bekker’s absence and had a great game on the right flank, being defensively responsible and providing a cross field outlet on several occasions.

Pacific had the better of the ball from there on out, with a few dangerous forays into Forge territory. Dominic Samuel received a yellow card in the 88th minute for a hard foul near the edge of the area. However, the defense held firm and Forge earned their first win and clean sheet of the season.

No Rest for Forge FC

After a hard-fought game in Halifax on Saturday and a good win in the cold on Wednesday night, Forge FC are served with a short break. The Hamilton club has a quick turnaround yet again, though, with Cavalry FC in town on Sunday. Fortunately for both clubs, neither will be on much rest, with the Calgary club taking on Valour FC at Spruce Meadows Wednesday night. Cavalry scored on a late free kick to earn a dramatic 1-0 win.

Bekker will serve the second match of his ban on Sunday. Meanwhile, defender Jonathan Grant is still out with the injury he sustained early in the inaugural match. Expect Smyrniotis to continue rotating his attackers and relying on his midfield stalwarts — especially Awuah and Cisse — to try and collect another three points at home Sunday.

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