PREVIEW: Forge FC vs. York United — 2023 Match #29

2023 CPL Regular Season — Match #29
Forge FC vs. York United
May 31, 2023 at 7 p.m. ET
Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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The 905 Derby shifts to Hamilton for the first time this season on Wednesday night, as York United visit Tim Hortons Field for the 10th time in club history to play Forge FC.

The Nine Stripes roll into this midweek fixture in their first patch of good form this year, having won two straight and sitting third in the league table. Martin Nash’s York side have a 3-0-4 record so far and last weekend they defeated Cavalry FC at home in a narrow 1-0 triumph, thanks to Clément Bayiha’s first-half goal.

With two clean sheets in a row, things are starting to look up for York as their squad continues to get healthier — Nash named an unchanged starting XI last weekend for the first time in 2023, and the fact he was able to bring both Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé and Mo Babouli off the bench after lengthy injury absences was more good news.

On the other side of the pitch, Forge are perhaps flying even higher at the moment, sitting three points clear of the field at the top of the standings. Their 4-3-0 record makes them the only undefeated team remaining in the CPL at the quarter mark of the season, which is made more impressive by the fact they balanced the league with a Canadian Championship run that ended in the semifinals a week ago.

Over the weekend, Forge scraped a 1-0 win at Atlético Ottawa in a rematch of the 2022 CPL Final. David Choinière scored the lone goal in the 91st minute to take all three points for the Hammers, but the main hero of the day was goalkeeper Triston Henry, who set a new career high with eight saves to hold off a second-half onslaught by Atleti.

Matchups between these two Ontario rivals have often been fierce, with 18 total meetings — of which just one (the first game in CPL history) was a draw. Forge have won 11 of those games, with York taking the remaining six.

These sides have already met once this year at York Lions Stadium, where Terran Campbell scored an early screamer and Forge locked things down the rest of the way to secure a 1-0 derby win. Forge also won the last meeting at Tim Hortons Field (a 2-0 triumph in late 2022), but York did beat them 3-1 in Hamilton the match prior.

Overall, 905 Derby clashes are known to produce goals and some entertaining football; Wednesday night’s conflict should be no different.

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  • Can either defence be solved? Neither of these two sides has conceded a goal in the last two league matches. Forge have allowed the fewest in the CPL so far with just five in seven games, while York have allowed nine — four of those, however, coming in a 4-1 loss at Pacific FC that’s looking more and more like an aberration. Forge have rotated several players through the backline this year, but some experienced veterans including club newcomer Manjrekar James have kept them incredibly solid throughout. York, meanwhile, have chopped and changed a lot at the back, with players often needed to line up out of position, but they’ve answered the call admirably — particularly Paris Gee, who’s played in a number of roles but has done well the past two weeks at centre-back.


  • Reinforcements coming for York United: Aside from the winning result for York on Sunday, perhaps the most positive thing to come out of that game was the fact Mo Babouli and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé were fit enough to play a role off the bench. Both players are undoubtedly part of York’s best possible lineup if all are healthy, and the fact they might get both back at the same time is a huge boost to a club already starting to round into form. Gagnon-Laparé missed six games with an ankle injury suffered during the Canadian Championship tie with Vancouver FC, and star number 10 Babouli sat out four after an injury in warmups last time York played Forge. If both are able to start — or at least feature off the bench — Martin Nash will be much more confident in his side’s depth.


  • Forge lean on depth in busy schedule: Wednesday night’s game will be part of a stretch of five games in 16 days for Forge, who played an emotionally draining Canadian Championship semifinal last Wednesday in Montréal. This is a part of the season that’d be difficult for any CPL team, but Forge might be better equipped to handle it than any other simply because of the depth of their squad (although their relative good fortune with health has also helped). They made seven changes to their lineup on Saturday, with three starters from the Montréal game not featuring at all (Manjrekar James, Alessandro Hojabrpour and Rezart Rama), and still took all three points. It’ll be interesting to see how Bobby Smyrniotis juggles his squad this time for another midweek game, but regardless he’s sure to have a strong group to pick from.


Forge FC: Henry; Rama, Achinioti-Jönsson, James, Poku; Bekker, Hojabrpour, Sissoko; Borges, Hamilton, Choinière

York United: Giantsopoulos; Ferrari, Gee, Mourdoukoutas, Faye; Baldisimo, Soumaoro; Bayiha, Babouli, Ricci; De Rosario


Forge FC wins: 11  || York United wins: 6 || Draws: 1

Last meeting:

May 6, 2023 — York United 0-1 Forge FC


“[York] are really working well off the ball in their defensive structure — very good in their press. They’ve been excellent in their counter-attacks, especially if you look back at the Halifax game, a lot of energy. … Tactical flexibility is osmething we want to have in our team, from where we’re placing players, how we attack, and what that looks like from a formation and how we defend.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

“We can take something from [Sunday’s win], and from the fact if you put the work and the effort in you can win games in this league. That’s the bare minimum for us, if we can put that effort we did the last two games in we’ll win a lot of games. We’re a team that is very talented; we need that minimum effort at the level we’ve shown the last two games and if we do that we could go on a run.” — York United head coach Martin Nash