top of page

Forge's Final Theatrics

Canadian Premier League Playoff Final: Forge FC 2 vs 1 Cavalry FC (a.e.t)

The newly unveiled North Star Cup stood at the end of the tunnel as we awaited the teams for the 2023 Canadian Premier League Playoff Final. Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario was the setting for the showpiece final on Saturday, the home of contestants Forge FC and the site of two previous CPL playoff finals. Regular season champions Cavalry FC were the visitors looking to spoil the party. The visitors from Alberta are looking to try and beat a Forge side who have been impressively dominant in playoff finals, appearing in all four other CPL playoff finals, winning three of them.

Just shy of 14,000 spectators were in attendance to witness the final, resulting in the second largest attendance for a playoff final in CPL history. Forge named an unchanged side from the side that beat Cavalry in the first semi final two weeks ago with an attacking minded 3-5-2 hoping to overrun the midfield. Cavalry also unchanged from their dominant performance the week before vs Pacific FC fielding a 4-3-2-1.

A cagey 15 minutes welcomed us into the action, with the only bit of true action coming in the 15th minute also an awkward back pass to Cavalry goalkeeper Carducci volleyed to Alessandro Hojabrpour who attempts to return the volley with another volley from about 35 yards out only to predictably sail over the bar into the stands. The first real and best attempt of the match so far came from the always reliable Ali Musse of Cavalry who saw his free kick sail not too far over the bar. Another minute later in the 21st, yet another audacious effort with a snatched finish from Cavalry’s Kiwi number 9 Myer Bevan, seeing his effort sailing over the bar.

The final act of a cagey first half sees Fraser Aird fire in an on-target drilled shot right at Forge goalkeeper Triston Henry who manages to get his body in the way. Not much to write home about at half time but at least we have a shot on target.

The second half again takes time to come alive. The first attempt comes from Cavalry’s bright spark Ali Musse who tries a bending effort with his left from the right edge of the box which comes a lot closer than first anticipated but ultimately fails to hit the target. Only three minutes later, a lovely lofted ball from Eryk Kobza finds Musse in a near identical position on the edge of the Forge box, this time Musse opting to drive the ball across goal with Bevan and Akio waiting. Bevan manages to get his foot to the ball but ultimately takes it away from Akio who looked sure to finish from 5 yards out, agonizingly close for the visitors.

Cavalry continue to find joy down the right hand side first with Bevan delivering a floated cross to the back post which can only be softly headed at goal by Dan Klomp. Again, another floated cross from Musse this time finds the head of Akio who brilliantly finds the incoming Aussie Jesse Daley connecting perfectly but only to be saved by some truly remarkable reflexes from Golden Glove winner Tristan Henry. This game is beginning to liven up, it seems, time to strap in.

Poor Forge defending allows Ali Musse to have another left footed attempt at goal from outside the box only to be foiled again by goalkeeper Henry, who is beginning to look unbeatable today. A rather ambitious attempt from 40 yards out from Forge’s midfielder Bekker proves the last ‘effort’ of the 90 minutes and thus extra time beckons for the first time in CPL playoff final history.

The 100th minute and finally the deadlock is broken by Cavalry FC, who have absolutely been the better side so far. Fraser Aird pacing down the right finds Bevan racing into the box and is fouled for what looks to be a stonewall pen, referee waves it away and a quick thinking Bevan on the floor manages to find a pass to Daley in the box who lays it off to the striding Musse, who, for the third time today has a strike with his left from outside the box and finds the far corner! Forge had been warned you have to say through the 90 minutes and chaos ensues on the Cavalry bench.

Forge have to dig deep now and begin the comeback attempt. Firstly a goalmouth scramble is cleared rather panicky but the attacking continues leading to a Forge corner in added time of the first half of extra time. Captain Kyle Bekker plays a short corner to Beni Badibanga who from just inside the left corner of the Cavalry box sees his shot sail over a total of 15 players in the box and land perfectly in the far right corner of the goal. He somehow manages to outdo Ali Musse’s strike and bring the game level with the second half of extra time to play. It is never wise to rule out Forge even on a perceived off day.

The disbelief was to still be outdone once more from yet another corner. Forge’s Tristan Borges finds himself standing over the ball at the corner flag. What happens next will go down in Forge and CPL folklore for decades. In a moment that seemed to be streamed in slow-motion, Borges, whether he means to or not, sees his left footed, inswinging delivery fly directly into the far post of the goal, bagging what is known in Football as an Olimpico goal and what can only be a kick in the stomach for Cavalry. That shear moment of excellence rounds off the action for the CPL final and the final 10 or so minutes are played out among a group of teams who had given everything this evening.

Final whistle blows and Forge, yet again, secure the North Star Cup. Cavalry, whilst disappointed can be proud of their season which saw them finish as the regular season winners and worthy adversaries of the leagues dominant team.

Forge with this win see them enter the CONCACAF Champions League and once again establish themselves as the team to beat in Canada. Critics can argue about a one team dominance being detrimental to a leagues development, however, Forge don’t care, this is what they do. Cavalry for one, have looked to them as the benchmark and in many respects have absolutely matched them for success this season and will be another force to be reckoned with next season. All we know is with finals as nail biting and exciting as this, a few more heads will have turned in the direction of the Canadian Premier League and the future continues to look bright for the Canadian Premier League.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page