Forge FC vs. Valour FC: Rob Gale’s team fighting to stay alive at Island Games
John Molinaro, Director of Content (@JohnMolinaro)
2020 CPL regular season (The Island Games) — Match #25 Forge FC vs. Valour FC September 5, 2020 at noon ET/1:00 p.m. AT
UPEI Artificial Turf Field in Charlottetown, PEI Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca& CBC
One team is already through, while the other is fighting to stay alive.
Valour FC faces a must-win situation on Saturday when they take on Forge FC, who have already clinched their spot in the second round of The Island Games.
Currently sitting seventh in the table and two points out of the top four, Valour needs a victory against the reigning CPL champions on Saturday in order to stay alive – they wouldn’t clinch with a win, as they’d still need other results this weekend to go their way. A draw or loss to Forge would result in Valour’s elimination from The Island Games.
While a well-rested Forge is coming off a 2-0 win over Atlético Ottawa last Sunday, Valour suffered a 2-0 loss to HFX Wanderers FC on Wednesday.
Valour FC will be without defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste on Saturday. He was injured early in the loss to HFX and won’t be available against Forge.
“He’s everything we expected him to be,” coach Rob Gale said. “It’s a loss. And Chak (Hocine) had been injured just before the first game, came in and injured himself again. The way it all went on Wednesday… it just wasn’t falling in our favour.”
Forge sits top of the table (11 points), while Valour is seventh (seven points). Forge has already clinched a second-round berth.
Valour needs to win in order to stay alive in the top-four race (but they’d also need other results to go their way this weekend to clinch a second-round spot). Valour would be eliminated with a draw or loss.
Squad rotation for Forge: While it’s true that Forge has been off since last Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see if coach Bobby Smyrniotis continues to roll with his key starters, or if he’ll rotate his squad. Defenders Daniel Kruzten and David Edgar, and goalkeeper Tristan Henry, have played all 540 minutes of Forge’s six games thus far, while captain Kyle Bekker (485 minutes) and Paolo Sabak (450 minutes) have also logged lots of playing time. With the second round slated to start next Tuesday and Forge already through, Smyrniotis could decide to give his workhorses a rest against Valour.
Valour’s response: Valour played on the front foot for much of their last game, but HFX still won on a pair of first-half goals against the run of play. “We had 66 per cent possession, maybe had more than that by the time those goals came,” coach Rob Gale stated. “We were the better footballing team throughout the match but that evolution from possession to chances on goal and that just didn’t come.” How will his team respond after outplaying but still losing to the Wanderers?
Peña available for Valour: Already down 2-0 to HFX, Valour’s miseries were compounded in the 88th minute when Federico Peña drew a red card for a late tackle on Andre Rampersad. Peña’s expulsion meant he would have been suspended for Saturday’s game. However, the red card was later withdrawn after review, which means Peña will be available for selection for Valour this weekend.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“There weren’t that many great opportunities; sometimes you’re gonna give up possession to create space. For us, a team that likes to possess a lot, sometimes it can’t be the be-all and end-all based on what your players are feeling like.” – Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis, after the Ottawa game.
“We’ll welcome all prayers because the football gods were not on our side today. Games are decided by tiny, tiny margins here. Anything can happen.” – Valour coach Rob Gale, after the HFX game.