The Canadian Premier League has finally kicked off with the first match between Forge FC and York 9. The game was explosive, end-to-end and very intriguing as both Smyrniotis and Brennan did everything they could to try and get the win. Here is our match recap and analysis for Forge FC’s 1-1 tie with York 9.
As the game kicked off, York 9 set up in a 3-5-2 formation, while Forge FC played a 4-3-3 that often transformed into a 4-2-3-1 with Kyle Bekker dictating the tempo of the game.
York 9 – (3-5-2): Ingham (GK), Springer (RCB), Gasporotto (CB), Gogarty (LCB), Porter (RWB), di Chiara (DM), Marafushi (DM), Telfer (LWB), Aparicio (AM), Rollocks (RS), Adjei (LS).
Forge FC – (4-3-3): Henry (GK), Grant (RB), Frano (CB), Samuel (CB), Awuah (LB), Achinioti-Jonsson (DM), Cisse (DM), Borges (RW), Bekker (AM), Nanco (LW), Welshman (CF)
York 9 got out of the gates right from the first whistle and had a few great chances before Ryan Telfer found the back of the net with the first ever CPL goal just five minutes in. But it wasn’t long before Forge FC had their first chance of the game and Emery Welshman nearly equalized with a brilliant bicycle kick. Unfortunately for Forge, the ball rolled wide and York 9 remained in the lead. The first half was largely dominated by York 9, but Forge FC looked lively and dangerous on the break. Forge relied heavily on Kyle Bekker to spray the ball out wide and the former TFC man often looked to the left to set free Chris Nanco. Nanco would then drive forward and switch play to the right. But whether it was the wind or a lack of quality in the final third, Forge and Nanco just could not find the appropriate cross field pass. This was a real shame for the Hamilton side as York 9 were so wide open down their left-hand side. Tristan Borges didn’t even realize how much space he had to exploit down that right-hand side in the first half and with Nanco’s poor delivery, Daniel Gogarty was always able to snuff out any danger.
The story of the first half beyond Telfer’s goal was just how fluid Brennan’s 3-5-2 system was. At times Simon Adjei would drop in on the left and then other times it was the goal-scorer Ryan Telfer. Either way those two alongside Manuel Aparicio and Cyrus Rollocks looked so lively up top. The sheer strength and speed that they possessed caused havoc on Smyrniotis’ defense. And with a nervous start for Forge’s back-line, Telfer was quick to get the first goal in the league’s history after a fantastic through-ball from Aparicio. The lack of a constant natural left-wing-back did leave a massive amount of space for Forge to get into, but the Hamilton side never took advantage of it and Bekker always favoured Chris Nanco down the left during the first 45 minutes.
Manny Aparicio, Walter Marafushi and Joseph di Chiara provided for a fantastic midfield triangle in the heart of York’s midfield and Jimmy Brennan will be very happy with how those three played today. They were particularly stellar in the first half, but once Marafushi was taken off in the 65th minute, things started to go a bit downhill in terms of York’s domination in midfield areas. Marafushi’s substitution for Austin Ricci meant that Aparicio was forced to sit deeper. Unfortunately for Brennan, the only thing that accomplished was harm York 9’s presence in attack, while giving more time on the ball to Forge’s Kyle Bekker.
But even before Marafushi’s substitution, Forge FC grew into the game and were particularly dangerous in wide areas. Kyle Bekker was still looking for the left side more than the right, but this time the cross-field passes from Nanco and later Kadell Thomas started to come off. Gogarty started to look a bit exposed without Adjei or Telfer tracking back as diligently as they perhaps were required to and Tristan Borges had two treat chances to score, both of which were denied by Nathan Ingham. The first, the former York U keeper was able to tip the shot onto the crossbar and the second was one of the best saves you will see this season. Almost David De Gea like, Ingham stretched out his legs and denied Borges from close range after the right winger looked destined to score. But as the half went on, York continued to look vulnerable and the momentum really switched in favour of Forge FC. However, they were very lucky to get away without a red card as Kyle Bekker elbowed Joseph di Chiara in the face and should have at least seen yellow if not red, but didn’t receive a card at all.
York 9 continued to struggle as Ingham made another save on Emery Welshman ten minutes later. But when Smyrniotis took off Chris Nanco and introduced Kadell Thomas, Kyle Porter looked even more exposed for York. This swung the momentum in Forge’s favour and Smyrniotis capitalized on that by introducing Marcel Zajac and pushing Emery Welshman out on the right instead of Borges. This change proved to be vital for Smyrniotis’ side as Welshman got hold of the ball and was able to come up with the goods for Kadell Thomas towards the end of the game. Welshman used his pace out wide to beat Manny Aparicio, before sending in the perfect ball to an unmarked Kadell Thomas. Thomas then thrashed the ball into the top corner, finally punishing York’s lack of natural fullbacks. This finish made Smyrniotis look like a genius for putting Thomas on the field, and Brennan look a bit foolish for not changing his system or personnel when it was so obvious that Forge had far too much space out wide.
As the game started to wind down, Forge FC went on the break and had one final chance, but it was brilliantly defended by Luca Gasporotto in the box. In the dying seconds, Manny Aparicio couldn’t help himself and deliberately stuck out his hand to stop Forge’s attack, earning his second booking of the game. This was really unfortunate for Aparicio and York 9, as the Canadian midfielder had a fantastic game and will be missed if he ends up having to serve a one-match suspension. The first ever CPL match ended as a 1-1 draw and will certainly go down as one to remember.
4 STARS OF THE GAME
4. Manuel Aparicio – Apart from his foolish decision at the end of the game to get himself sent off, Manuel Aparicio had a very instrumental part to play in York’s early dominance. His assist for Telfer’s goal was a fantastic pass and he really controlled play for York 9 up top for large sections of the game. Everything went through him up until Marafushi departed the field where he didn’t look quite as composed.
3. Emery Welshman – Welshman looked isolated up top for large portions of the game, but when he moved out wide he caused havoc for Daniel Gogarty. After providing two great chances to score, he popped up with a crucial assist on Forge’s equalizer. His pace and presence was far too much to handle in the second half and his versatility also proved key in helping Smyrniotis secure a draw.
2. Nathan Ingham – Nathan Ingham never looked likely to be York 9’s first choice keeper, but after a fantastic opening match he might just have nailed down the spot for good. He made two fantastic saves, in addition to a handful of other stops throughout the match, keeping York 9 at 1-0 for far longer than they perhaps deserved. For a while it looked like it was just not going to be Forge’s day and Nathan Ingham was a major reason why. Finally, his save against Tristan Borges from close-range should turn out to be one of the saves of the season.
1. Kyle Bekker – Bekker probably should have been sent off for elbowing Joseph di Chiara, but it’s undeniable how much influence he had on the game. He constantly created for Nanco, who was wasteful with the opportunities and should have done more to make them count. The former TFC man even had two shots of his own, but both of them were way off target…to say the least. But importantly, the way he constantly broke the lines in between York’s defensive midfield pairing was really impressive and if he can continue to do that throughout the season, he will be absolutely instrumental to everything they do this season. Kyle Bekker is The Mastermind Site‘s man of the match for Forge FC’s 1-1 draw with York 9.
Overall, this was a great way to start the first ever season of the Canadian Premier League. Both teams were fully up for this game and both had their moments of brilliance. A draw was a fair result and provides lots of intrigue as we head into the next set of fixtures and Halifax’s game tomorrow against Pacific FC.
If Jim Brennan wants to continue on with this 3-5-2 system, he needs to have more natural wing-backs or ensure that Telfer and Porter cover the wide areas better. Otherwise his 3-5-2 system looked really smooth and suited the players on the field. For Smyrniotis and Forge FC, their fluid 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation also worked well and moving forward they should continue to utilize their pace and presence in wide areas. If Kyle Bekker can just work on his finishing, this Hamilton team will be dangerous all season long. 1-1 was a fair result and we cannot wait for tomorrow’s match between Pacific and HFX.
So there it is! Our first match recap and analysis of the new Canadian Premier League. Forge FC and York 9 played out a great game and although the score was only 1-1, this match provides a lot of excitement for this league moving forward.
Thanks for reading and see you soon!