HAMILTON – While it’s not yet set in stone, the rock mason is certainly getting the chisel ready.
Forge FC pulled away from the Fall pack courtesy of a 3-0 home win over Pacific FC on Saturday afternoon at Tim Hortons Field, inching themselves closer to a spot in the 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals.
Should Cavalry FC win tonight against York9 FC, the contenders for Finals 2019 will be set. If not? The chance of York9 winning the Fall enters the realm of far-reaching hypotheticals. It’s … not ideal, statistically speaking.
Truth be told, it’s a matter of when, not if now for Forge FC.
So, as it stands, it’ll most likely be the two best teams of 2019 – both of whom meet two more times during the regular season – who will contend Finals 2019 come Oct. 26 and Nov. 2.
But, before Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis can focus on those matches – it’s not done yet, after all – he’ll need to regroup following a 3-0 win over Pacific that brought out some of the best parts of his team … and some of the worst.
In the 41st minute Forge FC goalkeeper Triston Henry was issued a yellow card after bickering with the official concerning a foul inside Forge’s 18-yard box; Anthony Novak had a scuffle with the referee, which also drew a yellow. In total, five Forge players were issued bookings.
But, let’s get back to that first play, one that saw the league’s leading scorer, Pacific FC forward Terran Campbell, staring down Henry from the penalty spot with a chance to break the deadlock and give his team a first-half lead.
The goal never came. Henry made the save, cool as you like. In truth, he wasn’t really tested much.
Still, Smyrniotis called it “a little bit of a wake-up call for the rest of us.”
Forge FC woke up alright.
Kyle Bekker scored just before the half giving Forge FC a 1-0 lead and that momentum carried in the second half with a pair of goals by Elimane Cisse and Tristan Borges just three minutes apart onwards to that 3-0 victory.
Scoring three goals and delivering a clean sheet is quite the feat for a club, and something to celebrate and reflect on to an extent, but just as Smyrniotis has said all year, it’s already on to the next game.
And no – not the big game. Not just yet.
“I think the most important thing is it has to be locked up 100 per cent to put our full focus ahead,” Smyrniotis said. “So right now, it’s three points at a time until we get there (CPL Final). If that comes sooner than later, we’ll readjust and work on the next task at hand.
“Right now we need to keep our guys fresh, sharp and hungry. We have five games left in the next 17 days, so a lot of football in a short period, so staying in shape and healthy is the most important thing right now.”
What a majority of the fans at Tim Hortons Field enjoyed most at Tim Hortons Field was, of course, the three-goal performance. But it wasn’t the only treat on a rainy day.
Fans were welcomed on the field after the match, and were able to get autographs from all of their favourite players.
Back during training days at Redeemer College, where Forge FC worked prior to the regular season, team captain Kyle Bekker had offered: “I would like to take the good and the bad from the past clubs I have been with and implement them in the young guys and we can go out and meet these fans and be a part of this community.”
That is exactly the impact Forge FC is making in Hamilton.
“We know our fans will get behind us if they like what they see on the field. We have a group that is hardworking and wants to grind and show respect to the city of Hamilton,” Bekker said. “We know they’ll come out week in and week out and show support.
“They have been phenomenal from the beginning, so we’re just trying to do our part on the field to show them we are playing for them.”
Forge FC’s culture is not only important to the fans but specifically to Smyrniotis. The lead man for the Hamilton-based team thrives on having a talented and tactically sound outfit, and also believes the run they had in CONCACAF added some inspiration for the fans here at home.
But that culture Smyrniotis wants to implement doesn’t really start with the team; it starts with the fans.
“Our great results of late creates some good energy here in the stadium and we want it to be a very difficult place to play in for our opponents and with our fans,” Smyrniotis concluded. “They help create that culture we aim for.”