Forge FC completed the season sweep of Ontario rivals Atlético Ottawa in emphatic fashion Saturday, taking a 2-0 on a blustery Fall day at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.
Omar Browne and Elimane Cisse’s aesthetically pleasing second-half goals saw the home team go temporarily joint-top of the CPL standings while Ottawa became the first CPL club to be formally eliminated from playoff contention, having needed a win to avoid the axe.
Forge fielded a particularly standout attacking lineup, including Tristan Borges in central midfield and forward-thinking Johnny Grant taking up a spot in a back three in attack. Ottawa, meanwhile, stuck with their tried-and-true 5-4-1 formation used in their previous two results – including the same starting lineup seen in their win away to Edmonton at midweek.
As you could glean from the above description it was Hamilton who enjoyed most of the meaningful possessions through the first half, with wingers Omar Browne and Mo Babouli pushing high to create space around Ottawa’s eager wingbacks. Ottawa enjoyed some success on the counter, with striker Brian Wright and midfielder Soto knocking balls past defenders in attempts to find space.
First success for Forge came on the right-wing, with Browne delivering crucial balls just missed by Pacius, though that would be all to bear in the first half.
The second frame brought much more action to Tim Hortons Field, starting with a tricky cross from Borges as Hamilton looked to up the pace in the final third. A Babouli volley that beat Ottawa ‘keeper Dylon Powley but not the net.
Browne’s breakthrough came after 61 minutes when the winger took a lovely outside boot line-breaking pass from Mo Babouli into the box before unleashing a neat left-footed, bar-down curler to give the crowd a reason to cheer.
Ottawa looked inspired to find an equalizer, pushing further up the pitch and earned a couple decent chances before Cisse found the insurance marker in the 74th minute after running behind a gassed Ottawa backline, on the back of a beautiful long through ball from Kyle Bekker, and chipping Powley to secure the victory.
More chances came from the likes of Babouli and substitute Emery Welshman as Forge thrived in the late-match space.
Hamilton will now turn their attention to an all-important away match in the Concacaf League quarterfinals when they travel to Costa Rica to play Santos de Guápiles FC with the winner qualifying for the 2022 Concacaf Champions League.
62′ — Omar Browne (Forge FC)
74′ — Elimane Cisse (Forge FC)
17′ — Yellow: Vashon Neufville (Atlético Ottawa)
19′ — Yellow: Kwame Awuah (Forge FC)
40′ — Yellow: Miguel Acosta (Atlético Ottawa)
45+3′ — Yellow: Tristan Borges (Forge FC)
56′ — Yellow: Drew Beckie (Atlético Ottawa)
61′ — Yellow: Dom Samuel (Forge FC)