HIGHLIGHTS: Forge strikes back at Cavalry with tight home win

Forge FC closed out their regular season campaign in style on Wednesday as they downed their fellow Canadian Premier League Finals combatants, Cavalry FC, 1-0 at Tim Hortons Field. The win kept Forge’s Fall season title chances alive, as they jumped into first place ahead of the Cavs (who have a game left to play) by two points.

With both managers choosing to rotate their squads ahead of Finals 2019, keeping their cards close to the vest as much as possible, it was Forge that earned the upper hand from the get-go. They gave Cavalry a taste of their own medicine with a hard press, limiting the visitors to just 68.3 per cent passing accuracy in the first half.

The two sides each burned a substitution early, as Jonathan Grant (returning from a lengthy injury spell) left the match for Forge just 25 minutes in, to be replaced by David Choinière. Not long after, Cavs captain Nik Ledgerwood clashed heads with Kwame Awuah and went straight down the tunnel, to play no further part in the match.

After entering as a first-half sub, it was Choinière who opened the scoring. He put Forge ahead on the brink of halftime, tapping it in at the back post after a beautiful backheel from Chris Nanco allowed Kwame Awuah to send a pass across goal.

Holding onto the lead became more difficult for Forge midway through the second frame, as centre-back Dominic Samuel came flying into a tackle on a falling Jose Escalante, earning himself a second yellow card. The ejection comes as a major blow to the Hammers, who will now be without both Samuel and his fellow defender Bertrand Owundi for the first leg of Finals 2019.

Still, the home side managed to hold firm in the final 20 minutes, keeping Cavalry unusually toothless and sailing to victory after falling 2-1 in Calgary last week. Escalante had a golden opportunity to equalize in stoppage time, but his badly missed shot effectively sealed three points for Forge.

With the Fall season complete for Forge, they can now direct their focus entirely to Finals 2019, with leg one going down October 26 in Hamilton, and leg two on November 2 in Calgary. Cavalry, meanwhile,  have one game left to try and win the Fall title, as they close their schedule with an Al Classico at home against FC Edmonton this Saturday (4:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. MT, on OneSoccer).

Box Score

42′ – David Choinière (Forge FC)

36′ Yellow – Malyk Hamilton (Cavalry FC)
64′ Yellow – Dominic Samuel (Forge FC)
71′ 2nd Yellow – Dominic Samuel (Forge FC)
74′ Yellow – Julian Büscher (Cavalry FC)

Tickets on sale now: 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals

Three Key Performers

Chris Nanco (Forge FC)

Always a threat from out wide, Nanco was dynamic in attack. He was very creative for Forge, setting up a number of chances with backheels and clever passes. A lot of the credit for Choinière’s goal should go to him, for how well he held off his defender and found Kwame Awuah.

Tristan Borges (Forge FC)

The CPL’s leading scorer led his team in key passes (2), passing accuracy (85.4 per cent), crosses (5), touches (68), and tackles (11). It was an all-around solid performance from Borges to cap off an excellent Fall season.

Jose Escalante (Cavalry FC)

Love him or hate him, Escalante was an effective pest against Forge. He won four fouls and led his team with four shots and eight crosses, playing a free-roaming role near the front of Cavalry’s attack. He drew a lot of ire from Forge fans who felt he went down too easily for Samuel’s sending off, but his impact on the match was indisputable.