First-half goals from David Choinière and Woobens Pacius ensured Forge FC a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Valour FC at Tim Hortons Field Wednesday and a ticket to the semi-final of the 2021 Canadian Championship. Both teams fielded strong sides despite their injury crises. Valour squished into a 4-1-4-1 in defence with Daryl Fordyce slipping between the two defenders to create a back three in attack – a shape they went to often as Forge gobbled up lots of possession through the first half, especially. The onus was on Hamilton to find the space, too, as Rob Gale’s backline compressed play from the back. The first big chance of the match came through a series of disjointed plays in Valour’s midfield, eventually sending Pacius streaking in on goal. Tristan Borges enjoyed early glances at goal, too, though Forge’s breakthrough would come on the other wing.
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David Choinière’s opening marker hit mesh after 33 minutes when the winger earned a one-on-one in the box (following a neat cut-and-run from winger Johnny Grant), curling it past defender Daryl Fordyce and goalkeeper Matt Silva for the first. Pacius doubled Forge’s advantage soon after, in the 37th minute, when the striker went on the end of a Choinière-to-Kyle Bekker sequence on the right side, potting a second-chance effort after a brilliant point-blank save from Silva. Calls for a handball on the play were waved away by referee David Barrie. Valour, licking first half wounds, opted for two changes at half – Raphael Ohin arrived as the right centreback in a back three and William Akio up the wing – as they pinned Rafael Galhardo further up alongside striker Austin Ricci and now-central Keven Aleman. That clump of attackers gave Valour hope and some strings of possession in half number two. Those promising moves inadvertently led to Winnipeg’s opening goal after 60 minutes when Ricci caught Forge sleeping – and ‘keeper Triston Henry unaware – when he whacked the ball off the ‘keeper’s foot and into the goal. Tragically, though, Ricci injured himself on the play and was replaced by the diminutive Sean Rea. Through the 90 minutes, untimely giveaways were Valour's ultimate undoing. Forge’s substitute front line of Paolo Sabak, Josh Novarro, and Emery Welshman – who made his season debut after returning to the club – picked off a few more half-chances chances in the last half hour – and one penalty shout from Welshman – as the Winnipeggers failed to find an equalizer. Late controversy saw Galhardo handed a red card. Forge advances to play the winner of HFX Wanderers & CF Montreal of MLS – a tie to be played out next Wednesday. Their semi-final tilt will come at a later date. BOX SCORE Goals 33′ — David Choinière (Forge FC) 38′ — Woobens Pacius (Forge FC) 60' — Austin Ricci (Valour FC) Discipline 78' -- Yellow: Raphael Ohin (Valour FC) 62' -- Yellow: Rafael Galhardo (Valour FC) 90+4' -- Yellow: Paolo Sabak (Forge FC) 90+5 -- Red: Rafael Galhardo (Valour FC)