Both Cavalry FC and Forge FC braved sub-zero temperatures in Calgary on Wednesday as the top two clubs in the CPL squared off at an icy ATCO Field. The two sides, who will meet three more times in the next few weeks (including the two-legged CPL Finals), played a back-and-forth game, but it was ultimately hosts Cavalry who emerged with a 2-1 victory.
The first half saw no goals, but the field seemed tilted toward Forge’s goal as Cavalry attacking with over 60 per cent possession. With the wind at their backs, the Cavs had plenty of time in their opponents’ half, although they weren’t able to get on the board. Dominique Malonga did put one into the net for Cavalry in the 30th minute, although his effort was flagged for a very controversial offside call.
It was Malonga again, however, who ultimately gave Cavalry a lead. Midway through the second half, he fought his way into the box as Jordan Brown tried his luck from well outside, and Malonga was there to put away the rebound for his 10th goal of the year.
After falling behind, Forge started to carve out some more possession as they pressed further up the pitch in search of a goal. The visitors equalized in the 78th minute, as Anthony Novak powered into the box all alone and lifted it over Cavs ‘keeper Marco Carducci’s left arm.
The hero of the night, though, was destined to be Malonga. In the 84th minute, he did what he does best and pushed his way through a crowd in the box, finding Nathan Mavila’s low cross and re-directing it goalward with his right foot. Third in the Golden Boot race at the start of the night, he pulled nearer to Forge’s Tristan Borges, who tops the leaderboard with 12 goals, and he drew level with second-place Terran Campbell of Pacific FC.
Adding to the bad news for Forge, centre-back Bertrand Owundi collected a yellow card in this one, which means he’ll miss the first leg of Finals 2019 due to card accumulation.
These two sides do battle again next Wednesday in Hamilton (7:00 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer), but not before Forge makes a stop in York Region to take on York9 FC in the last 905 Derby of 2019, this Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer). Of course, it all leads up to those last two meetings in Finals 2019, going down October 26 in Hamilton and November 2 in Calgary.
Perhaps taking notice of the talk heating up around the Golden Boot race, Malonga scored an excellent brace and could’ve had at least one more. He also led his team with 88 per cent passing accuracy, demonstrating his worth as one of the best target men in the CPL.
Nik Ledgerwood (Cavalry FC)
Turning heads just by being the only player on the field without long sleeves or gloves, the Cavs’ captain made a huge impact on the game, especially in the first half. He won all his duels and tested Forge ‘keeper Triston Henry from long range on a few occasions, taking his chances in conditions where anything could happen.
Anthony Novak (Forge FC)
Forge needed a moment of individual brilliance to break through the Cavalry press tonight, and Novak provided it. He showed off his strength and agility in holding off a defender to score and he was a force in the air, taking on 11 aerial duels.