Final Score: Forge FC 3-0 Pacific FC
Goalscorers: Mo Babouli (70′), Chris Nanco (75′), Tristan Borges (80′)
Game of the 2021 season: 11
CPL match: 146
Match in a minute or less
Chances were few and far between at both ends in the opening hour before Forge fired three past Callum Irving in a 10-minute span late in the match to secure a 3-0 win over Pacific FC. Mo Babouli beat Irving with a powerful strike at the near side for the first before substitutes Chris Nanco and Tristan Borges gave the Hammers some insurance. Pacific failed to find any attacking cohesion on the night as they register no shots on target in the match with a Jamar Dixon volley off the post as close as they came to scoring.
Bassett a glaring omission in midfield
Pacific looked a solid side defensively, at least through the opening 70 minutes, and enjoyed 58.3% of ball possession, with their back four getting plenty of touches and demonstrating comfort in building out the back. The breakdown came in midfield when the Tridents looked to transition to the attack with the service into their front three lacking across the 90′.
While the efforts of Kyle Bekker were a big factor, no Ollie Bassett for Pacific in the middle of the park proved a hindrance in breaking Forge’s defensive lines. Bassett’s 57 passes completed in the opposition half were more than any of his teammates coming into this game and his hunger to advance the ball into dangerous areas was missed by Pa-Modou Kah’s side against Forge.
Given the congested nature of their current schedule (Pacific are back on the pitch Wednesday night), Kah suggested his hands were tied in dropping Bassett on Sunday: “Ollie’s gave us two good games and sometimes you have to take a player out, give them a little rest so that they can be fit and ready for the next game.” While it’s difficult to expect any player to feature game in, game out in the current conditions, Bassett should be one of the first names on the Pacific teamsheet when fit and available for selection as highlighted by his absence tonight.
Forge flex their forward depth
Chance creation hasn’t been a concern in the eyes of Bobby Smyrniotis, it’s simply been the finishing touch that they lacked in their opening two matches. With that in mind, leaving 2019 leading goal scorer Tristan Borges and arguably Forge’s most threatening forward so far in 2021 Chris Nanco out of the XI against Pacific appeared an interesting call before the opening whistle but proved pivotal upon their introduction around the hour mark.
Both substitutes got their name on the scoresheet for the first time this season with Nanco tapping in at the back post following a build from Borges and another player off the bench in Elimane Oumar Cissé before Borges slotted home from the spot to make it 3-0 with ten minutes remaining. The only concern going forward could be the fitness of Borges as he was forced off following a heavy challenge from Kadin Chung — whether that was purely precautionary given the scoreline remains to be seen.
To play the way Smyrniotis wants his front three to operate, giving some of his firepower a shorter shift is part of the process the Forge coach told reporters after the match: “If you can keep those guys fresh, that keeps the engine running, that keeps the press higher, that keeps the opponent from gaining field on you and also gives you more field and more legs to go out and I think today that worked very well for us.”
Still awaiting another slew of additions to their attacking group highlighted by former CF Montreal forward Omar Browne, Forge showed what they can do in the final third on Sunday when given the opportunity — to the tune of 3 goals in a 10-minute span against Pacific. Once the reinforcements arrive, expect the goals to keep coming for the Hammers.
Tridents can’t slay the dragon
Pacific put in the most impressive performance of the opening weekend of the season in their dominant 2-0 win over last year’s runners-up HFX Wanderers. Following that victory up with a 2-2 draw against York United and now a 2-0 loss to Forge, the Tridents are slightly trending in the wrong direction as they get set to face a fit Atlético Ottawa side on Wednesday.
Although Kah suggested the only difference between the two teams was “their balls went in, ours didn’t” in his post game availability, it’s difficult to pick up points when your side fails to register a shot on target.
After their showing at the Island Games in 2020 and plenty of excitement surrounding the always entertaining Marco Bustos, many backed Pacific as one to watch for 2021 — our own Marty Thompson pegged them as the eventual champions before the start of the season. Now winless against Forge in seven league contests dating back to 2019, it’s hard to see the Tridents as a legitimate contender until they can find a way to get results in pivotal matches like these.
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Kyle Bekker, Forge FC
As has been the case so many times in the past two seasons, Bekker provided the sort of moment a winning side needs from its captain on the opening goal with a great read and interception at the halfway line before finding Choiniere ahead of Babouli’s goal. His role in the build-up won’t show on the scoresheet but his impact in the middle of the park throughout the 90′ can’t be overstated.
Pacific FC will get just two days rest before their fourth match of the season when they take on Atlético Ottawa on Wednesday, July 7 (7 pm ET/6 pm CT), while Forge FC plays Cavalry FC Thursday evening at IG Field (8 pm ET/7 pm CT). Watch all games live on OneSoccer.