Time has not quelled the intensity of the rivalry between Forge FC and Cavalry FC in the Canadian Premier League.
Meeting on Thursday night for the first time since last November’s second leg of Finals 2019, the two rivals put on an entertaining show in the regular season curtain-raiser, battling to a 2-2 draw in the opening match of The Island Games from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
A controversial penalty call deep into injury time (replays appeared to show that a shot by Mohamed Farsi hit Forge’s Dominic Samuel in the ribs) gave the team from Calgary a lifeline, and Cavalry’s Nathan Mavila converted from the penalty spot.
Picking up where they left off in 2019 – the teams met nine times in a hotly-contested series – the league’s two heavyweights battled it out again in a tight and physical back-and-forth contest.
Cavalry defender Dominick Zator opened the scoring in the 11th minute, when he was left unmarked in the middle of the box and connected on a header from a corner kick that beat Forge goalkeeper Triston Henry just inside the post.
Forge levelled the score 15 minutes later off a broken play. Johnny Grant made a great run down the right side and played a ball towards the middle. Cavalry couldn’t clear its lines, and the ball fell to Novak who hit a sweet overhead volley with his back to goal that tucked in underneath the crossbar.
Kyle Bekker scored with a diving header in the 71st minute past Cavs goalkeeper Marco Carducci off a lovely cross played into the box by David Choinière. Mavila then converted from the penalty spot in the 94th minute to help Cavalry earn a share of the points.
Notably, Paolo Sabak, Maxim Tissot, and Mo Babouli all made their CPL debuts for Forge, with Babouli entering the game as a sub in the second half and having a hand in the setup of Bekker’s goal. Marcus Haber made his first appearance for Cavalry, after spending last season with Pacific FC.
Both these teams return to action on Sunday, as Cavalry faces Valour FC (noon ET/1:00 p.m. AT) while Forge meets FC Edmonton (3:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. ET).
Forge: start with tempo – Forge had to come out of the gate strong and dictate the pace of the game early on. Instead, it was Cavalry who started with the greater tempo and opened the scoring in the 11th minute.
Cavalry: sustain high press – Noted for smothering their opponents right from the get-go, Cavalry expertly used their high press to force Forge onto the back foot for long stretches.
6’ – Elijah Adekugbe (Cavalry FC)
15’ – Marcel Zajac (Forge FC)
58’ – Daniel Krutzen (Forge FC)
75’ – Jonathan Grant (Forge FC)
90+3’ – Dominic Samuel (Forge FC)
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kyle Bekker (Forge FC )
Forge’s captain scored and pulled the creative strings in the heart of midfield for the reigning league champions. Solid in possession as he effectively played through the pressure of Cavalry’s pressing game.