Final Score: Forge FC 3-0 FC Edmonton Goalscorers: Campbell 35′, 69′, Borges 45′ Game of the 2022 season: 10 CPL match: 261
Match in a minute or less
Forge FC banked three points at home on Saturday afternoon, defeating FC Edmonton 3-0 at Tim Hortons Field to record their first victory of the 2022 season. Terran Campbell opened the scoring in the 35th minute as he buried the rebound from his own saved penalty kick, and 10 minutes later he provided the assist for Tristan Borges’ first goal of the year to make it 2-0.
Campbell capped things off in the 69th minute by scoring his second of the match, barreling through the Edmonton backline to get his foot on a low cross and make it 3-0.
FC Edmonton low block tough to break down, but Forge find way through
Playing in their first game away from home this year, Edmonton came out with a strong defensive shape — albeit with a back four rather than the five they’ve used in their first two matches. Still, they proved to be very well-organized in the first half, inviting pressure but keeping Forge mostly limited to the outside channels and perimeter.
Cale Loughrey — on loan with the Eddies from Forge — stepped up into midfield after playing in the back three previously, and did very well, perhaps offering a little inside info having trained with the Hamilton side in preseason.
“Coming from Forge I know they like to get their fullbacks involved in midfield, so it was kind of to even it up with an extra man in midfield for us,” Loughrey explained.
In fact, despite Forge’s two-thirds possession throughout the contest, they didn’t muster a shot until around the 25-minute mark as Edmonton’s centre-backs managed to steer away quite a few speculative balls into the box. Luke Singh ended up with six interceptions and he won four of his duels, and his partner Nyal Higgins made a team-high four clearances.
Still, Edmonton boss Alan Koch was not particularly pleased with his side’s overall performance, particularly after they conceded. He also would have liked to see them get the ball upfield a little more quickly to make better use of the limited possession they had.
“I think we looked timid, I think we looked anxious,” Koch admitted. “We knew we were going to have to come here and defend, but obviously when you defend you hope to get the ball at some stage. I thought we got the ball at strategic moments in the first half but we gave it away too easily, and that just compounds the problem — you just defend and defend and defend. When that happens, eventually they’re going to get closer and closer to your goal.”
Around the midway mark of the half, though, Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis decided to adjust his team and have them try to attack in different ways, which paid off well. Most notably, Tristan Borges and David Choinière swapped wings so both could cut in on their strong foot — Borges moving to the right and Choinière going to the left — and it paid off almost immediately with Choinière’s right-footed through ball to Terran Campbell the catalyst for Forge’s second goal.
“We switched those two guys on the wings just to get them inverted into the half spaces and moving inside on their favoured foot, just to give a different look to things and try and see if we could get those incisive passes through the lanes,” Smyrniotis explained postmatch.
Campbell starts clicking at point of Forge attack
Terran Campbell began playing for Forge in the Concacaf Champions League in February, but it felt as though he fully arrived on Saturday. After spending his first few appearances getting acquainted with the new system under Bobby Smyrniotis, this was by far his most comfortable game playing as a central spearhead for the club’s front three.
The penalty was one thing — Andreas Vaikla’s save was a good one but Campbell did well to react quickly and bury the rebound — but it was his next two goal involvements that really showed the skillset he’d honed at Pacific.
He spotted David Choinière in the left half-space and made a run in behind to get on the through ball ahead of Forge’s second goal, and Campbell showed good instincts and vision to play it across to Tristan Borges for an easier finish.
Then for his second goal (Forge’s third), Campbell made a barging run through the Edmonton backline and held off Nyal Higgins to get the touch — with his knee, perhaps — he needed to put the ball in the net. Not all of Campbell’s goals at Pacific were the most beautiful strikes, but he has proven that he can be extremely effective and dangerous just by finding the right spots in the box and making intelligent runs.
More than in any of his prior four appearances for Forge, Campbell showed why he could be such a good fit in Hamilton. He’s certainly comfortable playing out wide, but in the middle he has more opportunities to get into the box and provide such moments as he did on Saturday.
“Campbell is gonna score a lot of goals here,” Smyrniotis told reporters postgame. “That’s the one thing I’m sure of, whether they come now, they come a little bit later, they come one game at a time. He’s the guy in the box, and that’s what he does. He scored a goal in the second half by being in the right place and he’s put one on a platter for Borges by being in the right place and making those right runs, those vertical runs in the box that are very important for us with all of the ball movement we have.”
Eddies press higher, open up in second half; Forge adjust well
Down 2-0 at halftime, the Eddies came out of the interval clearly hoping they could find a goal quickly and give themselves a chance in the game. The 10 minutes after the break saw them press much higher than they had previously and switch play from side to side more frequently, with Tobias Warschewski doing a lot of good work to win duels and try to create.
With that extra aggression from Edmonton, though, Forge knew they’d be able to find opportunities on the counter-attack. They had a few great opportunities late in the game, especially after Chris Nanco came on, and were it not for a couple of missed chances from Woobens Pacius they might’ve had four or five goals on the day.
Smyrniotis identified another tactical tweak his side made in the second half so they could better hold their shape and pick their opportunities, as central midfielder Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson slotted between the centre-backs to make it a back three.
“In the second half we changed things, where we dropped Jönsson a little bit further back, just to give us a little bit better structure on the ball and just draw Edmonton a little bit out,” Smyrniotis pointed out. “We knew they obviously had to come in and try to score some goals, and that was a way of trying to draw them a little bit further out and increase the space between the lines, which I think occurred.”
With the early second-half energy from Edmonton not producing the goal — or even the shots — they wanted, though, Koch was forced to keep an eye on the future. The Eddies have a difficult week coming, with a midweek clash against Pacific FC at home on Wednesday followed by another road trip out to Halifax next weekend.
Around the hour mark, Koch’s triple substitution was evidence of him planning ahead, and he admitted as much postgame — although he also wanted to hand some minutes to players like Wesley Timoteo and Mamadi Camara to see what they could provide in the late stages.
“This is a killer week that we’re about to go on,” Koch offered. “Flying out to Ontario, flying home tomorrow and playing Pacific on Wednesday, and then flying to the maritimes — thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Schedule. A hundred percent, in the 60th-odd minute was definitely thinking about moving on to the next game.”
He added, though: “I wanted to get more of a response from our group, not meaning get a result, but show some character at the end. Give some players that haven’t played much an opportunity to show what they could do.”
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Terran Campbell, Forge FC
Two goals and an assist are almost always enough to get this particular nod. Campbell was excellent for Forge, drifting between both half-spaces and causing havoc for the Eddies’ centre-backs. He finished with four shots and two chances created.
Forge will head to Winnipeg next weekend, where they’ll take on Valour FC on Sunday, May 1 (2:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. CT). Edmonton, however, have a rare midweek league match coming up, as they return home to play Pacific FC this Wednesday, April 27 (9 p.m. ET/7 p.m. MT).
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