It was a Cavalry vs. Hamilton Forge final preview on Wednesday night. Forge FC and Cavalry FC met in chilly Calgary for a preview not only of Wednesday’s clash in Hamilton, but of the much-awaited inaugural CPL Finals taking place later this month.
Two Horse Race
For much of the inaugural seasons, Forge FC and Cavalry have been the clear cream of the crop. Cavalry ran away with the spring title and lead the fall competition by a single point over the Hamilton outfit.
The finals set and these two teams are focused on who can come away the winner in a home and away two-legged tie at the end of October. With that in mind, a pair of games — home and away — over the space of a week seems like perfect preparation.
Ultimately, Forge fall 2-1 in the first edition of this CPL final preview.
First Half Drama
The first half was scoreless but not uneventful. In the 27th minute Cavalry forward Dominique Malonga looked to have put the hosts in front. The goal was called back for offside but a second look showed Malonga in an onside position. Without VAR to check the call, the visitors got away with one.
The hosts kept the pressure up, though, forcing a number of decent saves from Triston Henry in the Forge FC goal. However, the teams entered the half time break level.
While Malonga hit to put the hosts in front after the break with a tap in from close range. It was Anthony Novak, though, who got Forge back to level terms. The 25 year old got his 6th for Forge, the second highest on the team. One of the issues that has plagued Forge FC through the fall season has been a lack of secondary scoring. Tristan Borges leads all players in the Canadian Premier League with 12, but Kyle Bekker (5) and Chris Nanco (5) are the only other Forge players with more than 3.
The loss of Emery Welshman is a contributing factor to this lack of scoring depth. Welshman had four goals in 13 appearances in all competitions before leaving for the Premier League in Israel.
Ultimately, late in the match Malonga scored again, taking a valuable point for the hosts. Cavalry moved into first place in the fall standings with the win.
— Forge FC (@ForgeFCHamilton) October 10, 2019
With this result in the books, Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis needs to refocus for the Derby match against York 9 on Saturday. A win is crucial if Forge are going to hold on to hope of finishing first in the fall table. If the Hamilton side can win against their local rivals and get a win at home against Cavalry, they will take the fall title.
— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) October 10, 2019
There are some variables, especially if Cavalry lose their provincial derby against FC Edmonton, but the simplest path to the title is for Forge to win out. Above all, being prepared for the finals is what Forge must focus on.
Some of that preparation involves personnel. Keeping Tristan Borges fit and ready for those games is crucial. Unfortunately, Bertrand Owundi collected a yellow card in the match. This means, due to card accumulation, he’ll miss the first leg of the Finals. Owundi was immense in this match, racking up 13 clearances, blocks, and interceptions. The former Minnesota United player has really adjusted well to the CPL game. He has consistently been one of Forge’s best defenders during the Fall season.
Forge FC are back in action on Saturday, taking on York 9 for the final installment of the 905 Derby. The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. at Lions Stadium.