York9, Forge renew hostilities, rivalry in 905 derby

YORK REGION – There’s no better way to kick off the rest of the CPL season than a derby win.

That is what York9 FC will be looking to do on Sunday when they travel to Hamilton to face Forge FC for the first of three 905 derbies in the closing two months of the Fall campaign.

Winless in four matches, Y9’s aim to compete at the top of the table in the Fall competition has taken a hit. Heading into Sunday’s match they sit in sixth place, nine points off the pace of leaders Cavalry FC and seven behind second-place Forge. But with nine matches remaining the side is eager to turn the page.

“We’ve had a nice little break,” York coach Jimmy Brennan said. “Got a lot done on the training pitch that we wanted to, got a lot of injuries back.

“The boys are ready for it.”

With their last game on Aug. 25, a 2-2 draw away to FC Edmonton, the Nine Stripes have been hard at work on the training pitch.

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“We’ve had a couple weeks off now,” Y9 captain Manny Aparicio said. “Preparing for this game: defensively not making as many mistakes as we have been and taking our opportunities, putting them in the back of the net.

“It’s been a good week of training; today was a very good session. All positives this week, trying to translate that into Sunday.”

The two teams have met twice this season: in the inaugural match on April 27 when they tied 1-1 at Tim Horton’s Field and on May 25 in York’s home opener when Forge won 2-0 following a lengthy weather delay.

“The first one, first game of the CPL, a lot of adrenaline, everybody is trying to figure everybody out, we were able to draw,” Brennan recalled. “Here, disappointed for our home opener – we were doing alright until that rain delay came in, that kind of killed our momentum. Fair enough to them, they end up winning.

“But it’s about us getting something back now. We’ve got nine games left, 27 points to play for. This is an important game for us. We’ve got to get a result.”

It’s a proper six-pointer, in other words.

“For sure it is,” Brennan admitted. “We’ve got three games left with these guys. Three games that we want to win, nine points to pick up. But it won’t be an easy match.

“It’s up to us to go there, disrupt them and show what we’re capable of doing.”

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York have been keeping a close eye on their provincial foes during their short layoff.

“They like to counterattack quickly, try to expose their opponents, so we need to be alert for that,” outlined defender Luca Gasparotto. “Being patient in possession, try to break them down; we know they’ll give us opportunities.

“We’ve just got to play our football, be smart, and not give the ball away too cheaply in our own end because that’s where they thrive and attack very quickly in numbers.”

Even when Forge were in Honduras for Concacaf League action, Aparicio was scouting for advantages.

“I watched the first leg and then I watched the first half of the second leg,” he told “And then I fell asleep… It was a late game.

“We’ve been looking at those games, seeing weaknesses, where we can penetrate and use in our favour.”

As ever in a derby, every aspect is stepped up a notch or two.

“Whenever you’ve got that rivalry going, that classic game going, there’s always a little extra edge,” Aparicio said. “People have been buzzing to get to training, they’ve been out on the field even earlier than usual.

“There’s always that little extra push for these games, but at the end of the day it’s just three points that we’re fighting for.”

Gasparotto, formerly of Scottish Giants Rangers FC, added: “Nothing like the Old Firm, but maybe one day. We’re looking forward to it.

“It’s been a while since we played them.”

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Their manager cautioned against letting the occasion get the better of them, though.

“It’s a local derby. We want to win this game,” Brennan stressed. “Emotions are going to be high, which they always are in a derby.

“But we’ve got to stick to our game-plan, stick to our strengths, go there with confidence and look to get three points.”

A win on Sunday would see York not only climb the standings themselves, but also deny Forge the points they need to overtake Cavalry, at least until next Wednesday’s matches. It’s all to play for as the season enters the final stretch.

“This gets us back into the race,” Aparicio offered. “When we play against them, it’s always going to be a huge game: the 905 derby. We’re looking for those three points to get back into the title race and when you can take them away from a team that is up there, it gets you even closer to it.

“It’s a big statement game for us.”