HAMILTON, Ont.—Forge FC fans went home content on Saturday afternoon, as their home side beat Cavalry FC 1-0 in a crazy match in front of 10,486 people at Tim Hortons Field.
The two teams traded chances in the early part of the game, highlighted by a corner from Kyle Bekker that nearly found the back of the net in the 12th minute.
The first big chance of the match, however, came in the 35th minute. Bekker was first to a ball outside the penalty area, and fired a sweet shot that looked destined for the top corner, but it crashed back off the crossbar.
The near-miss seemed to spark Forge into life, as they then dominated the rest of the opening 45’.
Two minutes after Bekker’s chance, Cavalry defender Joel Waterman was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity, not a handball as was believed, sending Golden Boot leader Tristan Borges to the penalty spot.
But the hero of this contest, Cavlary GK Marco Carducci made an excellent save to deny Borges, kicking the ball out to keep the game scoreless.
Borges would redeem himself a few minutes later, curling a shot in from outside the box past Carducci to open the scoring for Forge and notch the first goal in CanPL Finals history.
He's done it! Who else?!— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) October 26, 2019
@tristandborges puts @ForgeFCHamilton up one after some magical movement up the left side from @ChrisNanco
FOR 1 - 0 CAV #CanPLFinals | #FORvsCAV | #CanPLxOneSoccer pic.twitter.com/B2GUoVbGs5
The biggest talking point of the match occurred in the second half, as once again, the referee took the spotlight at the expense of Borges.
In the 69th minute, Borges’ night was ended early following a hard challenge by Jay Wheeldon. It appeared the referee took exception to the Forge striker’s reaction to Wheeldon’s tackle.
Forge will likely appeal the decision, and it certainly wouldn’t come as a shock to see it overturned.
Unbelievable scenes here at Tim Hortons Field. @tristandborges is shown a red after getting tackled by Jay Wheeldon. He will miss the Second Leg.— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) October 26, 2019
FOR 1 - 0 CAV #CanPLFinals | #FORvsCAV | #CanPLxOneSoccer pic.twitter.com/8b6kvlsznn
Former Toronto FC striker Jordan Hamilton certainly didn’t like the call...
Despite losing their star, Forge continued their offensive onslaught but to no avail thanks to the heroics of Carducci. The Cavalry GK made a flurry of saves down the stretch to keep the Spring and Fall regular season champions in this two-legged tie.
Cavalry managed to hold off Forge’s attack for the rest of the game and will take a 1-0 lead into the second leg, which will be played next Saturday at Spruce Meadows in Calgary.
More importantly, they didn’t concede an away goal, putting them in pole position to win this series — especially if Borges is suspended. There’s still a lot of football left to play, however, and it’s certainly not out of reach for Cavalry.