‘Great starting point’: Forge FC reflects on wild inaugural day

HAMILTON – Game one is in the books.

Forge FC and York9 FC took centre-stage on Saturday afternoon for an entertaining match at Tim Hortons Field, taking a share of the points in the first-ever Canadian Premier League match with a 1-1 draw.

York9’s Ryan Telfer gave the visitors the lead inside of three minutes, but the home side battled back, finally getting their equalizer in the 78th minute through Kadell Thomas, who came on in the second half to make his professional debut.

“Overall it was what everyone hoped it was going to be,” said Forge head coach Bobby Smryniotis post-match. “A great festival for the game; a great starting point for what we’re going to build for the future. We were entertained as coaches and players and I think the crowd was… that’s the most important thing.

“We always want the three points, but we’ve got to show that Canadians can really play this game. We showed that.”

In front of their home fans, Forge were left wanting more.

“Could have been a lot better if we’d won,” said Forge captain Kyle Bekker. “It was great. The fans were awesome. We definitely felt them in the second half, used that energy to keep going.

“We wanted a second (goal), but (they were) a huge bounce back to get that result.”

That early shock upset even the most well-laid of plans.

“An early goal changes things,” said Smryniotis. “The mentality shifts for a moment. The guys did a good job of regrouping, sticking to a game-plan.

“We saw that in the second 45 minutes, but unfortunately, we didn’t get one more than the opponent today.”

Bekker credited that setback as just what they needed: “It’s tough, but it got all the nerves out; everyone settled into the game. The reaction was massive.

“A game like that can get on top of you and you can fall apart. We started talking a little more. We switched it from then on; it was us the entire game.”

Kyle Bekker reacts to a missed opportunity against York9 FC. (Photo: CPL).
Kyle Bekker reacts to a missed opportunity against York9 FC. (Photo: CPL).

Forge was on the front-foot from that moment on for much of the remainder of the match. Were it not from several excellent saves from York’s goalkeeper Nathan Ingham, all three points may have been theirs.

While the intent was clear in Forge’s play – neat interplay, devastating use of width and speed – the execution on the day left a little to be desired.

“If we were a little bit sharper, then our finishing looks good today,” said Smryniotis. “Sometimes it’s just the circumstance in the game.

“We created enough clear chances.”

Added Bekker: “We had 20 shots… need to put more on target, myself included.”

“Our front six, everyone, could have had a goal today. That’s the reality of sports, it happens sometimes, but there are a lot of positives.”

At the top of that list is that the CPL is here and there will be many more games to play.

“To be a part of something like this is truly special,” smiled Bekker. “Now we just want to kick on, keep going, everyday keep getting better, making these fans proud and growing the game in Canada.”

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