After trading second-half goals at Clarke Stadium on Sunday afternoon, FC Edmonton and Forge FC split the points with a 1-1 draw in the Alberta capital.
It didn’t take long for Forge to start challenging Edmonton’s goal, and they nearly scored twice in just the eighth minute of the match. After running onto a ball over top of the Eddies’ backline, Pacius lined up his shot and fired it past Darlington Murasiranwa, but it came back out off the far post. The ball fell to Terran Campbell, who took a follow-up shot, but Murasiranwa was able to get to it in time to push it away.
Murasiranwa was again needed in the 14th minute, this time to defend a free kick. After Noah Jensen was fouled a few yards outside the penalty area, Tristan Borges stepped up to take the shot, and curled a near-perfect shot that looked to be heading into the top right corner. The Eddies goalkeeper was equal to it, making a brilliant diving stop to keep it out and deny Borges the opening goal.
It was Edmonton who put the ball in the back of the net first in the 37th minute, with CJ Smith beating Triston Henry with a diving header. Unfortunately for The Eddies, however, Smith was clearly offside and the assistant referee made the easy call to raise the flag and wave off the goal.
After the goal was called off The Hammers immediately went the other way down the pitch. Pacius charged between a pair of Edmonton defenders with the ball, setting up a one-on-one with Murasiranwa but hesitating on his shot. That gave the Edmontonian an opportunity to come out of his net, and after making his body big to close down the gaps to shoot, was able to make the latest big block in what was a fantastic opening half for the young goalkeeper.
Partly due to his heroics in goal, the first half would end tied nil-nil at Clarke Stadium.
Masta Kacher had the first strong chance of the second half, as FC Edmonton picked up the pace coming out of halftime. Taking a shot from the edge of the penalty area, his curling effort forced a diving stop out of Triston Henry. The Forge goalkeeper would be challenged again a few seconds later as Mamadi Camara picked up the rebound, but his shot was blocked by a defender.
A few minutes later Henry would need to make another diving save, this time to catch and hang onto a low, driven effort from Wesley Timoteo.
After an hour of both sides knocking on the door but failing to take advantage, Forge would eventually take the lead. After Borges made a run through the middle of the pitch, he managed to get the ball out to Terran Campbell to his left. Campbell appeared to be trying to either take a shot or play in a cross, but his effort took a huge deflection off Eddies defender Cale Loughrey.
The ball floated toward the top right corner, past a scrambling Murasiranwa, and the visitors took the lead in the most unlikely fashion, officially listed as an own goal on Loughrey.
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as FC Edmonton equalized just seven minutes later through Smith.
With Smith looking for a lane to shoot just outside the penalty area, Borges poked the ball three, sending it back toward Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson with a lot of pace. The Swedish midfielder, playing centre-back in this match, was unable to control it, and the ball was loose in the Forge penalty area as a result.
Smith ran in and fired it past Henry with his first touch, tying things up at 1-1.
With Forge pushing hard for a victory that would have secured them a spot in the Canadian Premier League playoffs in a few weeks, and The Eddies hanging onto a point and possibly even pushing for a winner, the intensity ramped up even more.
Kacher had a header saved by Henry with a few minutes remaining, and Jordan Hamilton and Emery Welshman both missed the target with shots, but the best chance fell to Forge FC.
After Luke Singh was given a second yellow for a reckless challenge just outside the penalty area, Jordan Hamilton stepped up to take the ensuing free kick. Hamilton perfectly shot the ball toward the top right corner of Murasiranwa’s net and had the goalkeeper beat, but the woodwork again came to his rescue, as the ball smashed the crossbar.
It was a deserved draw for FC Edmonton, as they avoided the season sweep against Forge, but for The Hammers it felt like a missed opportunity. They could have secured a playoff spot with a win, but the performance didn’t justify the three points, and they head back to Hamilton now for a second opportunity at qualifying next weekend.
60′ — Cale Loughrey (FC Edmonton) — own goal
67′ — CJ Smith (FC Edmonton)
72’— Yellow: Dom Samuel (Forge FC)
75′ — Yellow: Luke Singh (FC Edmonton)
90+3′ — Red: Luke Singh (FC Edmonton) — second yellow card