Final Score: Cavalry FC 1-1 Forge FC Goalscorers: Musse 9'; Hamilton 90+4' Game of the 2023 season: 31 CPL match: 398​

Match in a minute or less

Forge FC remained alone in first place on Saturday afternoon with a resilient 1-1 draw at ATCO Field against longtime foes Cavalry FC. The host Cavs opened the scoring early thanks to a powerful volley off the foot of Ali Musse, but Forge took a heavy advantage in possession and probed forward, particularly in the second half as they sought an equalizer. As the game ticked over past the 90 minutes, all signs pointed to Cavalry holding on for the draw, but with almost their final opportunity of the match Forge at last managed to score. Captain Kyle Bekker drifted a good ball into the box, and substitute Jordan Hamilton just managed to get a toe to it to direct it in and level the score.

Three Observations

Forge 'find a way' once again by staying in game​

The players and staff of Forge FC themselves will be the first to say that they haven't been firing on all cylinders in recent games; the chances have been coming, but they have not been nearly as clinical as they'd like -- that's now 62 shots in their last four games, but just three goals. Still, what separates an elite team from a good one is an ability to get something out of games where they aren't necessarily at their best. Despite that aforementioned stretch of poor finishing despite so many shots, Forge have one win, two draws and a loss, the only defeat being that stunning 3-2 result against York thanks to a very, very late Brem Soumaoro screamer. The Hamilton side therefore will finish the weekend alone in first place in the Canadian Premier League, sitting a point ahead of Pacific even though the Vancouver Island club has 16 goals in a five-game unbeaten stretch since their 1-0 loss to Forge on April 30. Forge have played five games in the last 16 days now, including a battle with MLS side CF Montréal in the Canadian Championship, but they've still managed to stay in first place. That's a testament not only to their depth, but their tenacity late in matches. "We've played some great games, we've had some tough games, but in this league you have to be resilient," Forge captain Kyle Bekker told reporters postmatch. "Sometimes it's not going to be pretty, but you have to find a way, and picking up points -- especially on the road in a tough place to play like this -- is massive at the end of the season. We know we just have to keep g Forge have, remarkably, now gained six points from losing positions this season (no other CPL team has more than two). They've scored five equalizing goals, now three of them against Cavalry. Bobby Smyrniotis will obviously want his team to be scoring more freely and taking the lead rather than chasing games, but for them to be remaining in the fight so consistently is heartening for the champions.

Frustration at Cavalry; late dropped points taint strong performance​

Narratives can change in an instant, as was the case on Saturday afternoon in Calgary. Had the home side held onto their 1-0 lead, the story would've been how well they'd weathered the storm from Forge to hold on for a character-building win against the top side. That's not the case, though. Instead, the Cavs find themselves ruing yet another missed opportunity, having now dropped a league-high 12 points from winning positions. "I just felt this one we would see through, that's what's heart-wrenching," Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said postgame. "Forge are a great side, they've shown it: three-time champions, they can mix it with MLS teams, they can mix it in Concacaf. Today I thought we were outstanding first half with the ball, and second half we had to show a different side of us with defence. "It is a gut punch to concede a goal that late because everything they threw at us we seemed to block and be able to counter. I'm sick to the stomach for the boys." What's particularly frustrating for the Cavs will be that they were excellent in the first half of this game especially, exploiting specific areas they could hurt Forge and taking advantage of a tired opponent. Knowing that Forge had played a lot more football than them recently (with midweek games in both of the last two weeks), Cavalry seemed intent on capitalizing on some tired legs among the Forge ranks. They came into this match with a mandate to be aggressive and vertical in the first half-hour, and they were rewarded for it. Their 4-2-3-1 shape saw their own box well-protected by a back six, including fullbacks Bradley Kamdem and Fraser Aird who were responsible defensively to allow their wingers to get high. The front four, then, got forward with pace to break Forge's press and create separation. Sergio Camargo was the link between the defence and attack, providing energy in his quick give-and-go passing to progress the ball between lines. Ali Musse, as always, was a major handful on the right, making clever direct runs between Ashtone Morgan and Garven Metusala to try and drive forward in transition. Although Forge adjusted later, Cavalry were consistently able to look dangerous on the break thanks to the quality of their attackers. Unfortunately for them, however, the second goal never fell for the hosts and it's another missed opportunity in Calgary.

Forge patience pays off after 2nd-half adjustment​

As they so frequently are, Forge were very calm and patient on the ball in this match, moving it with short passes and occasionally probing with longer switches to try and find open channels or pull defenders out of position. This time, though, it seemed Cavalry were unwilling to bite on most of those efforts, preferring instead to hold their line -- particularly in the first half, where Forge made 93 passes in the attacking third but found just four touches in the box. The tide did begin to turn in the second half, though. Cavalry had much more trouble winning and retaining the ball thanks to a more cohesive Forge press, and as a result the Hammers had even more suffocating possession in the Cavs' half. Forge were much more efficient in attack in the second 45, with 15 touches in the box from 53 passes in the attacking third. Head coach Bobby Smyrniotis mentioned after the game that he indeed hadn't been happy with his side's attacking play in the first half, explaining that they'd been slow in the final third which had allowed Cavalry to hold their line and shift to block passing lanes easily. So, the Hammers got a little more aggressive and quicker when they came back out. "I thought we were finding space in the first half but we were too slow in the ball movement," Smyrniotis said. "That may have been a little bit the fatigue of turning around from a late Wednesday match to an early Saturday match with travel, but we were too slow. Although we were getting into certain areas of the pitch, I thought our execution was taking a while, maybe taking an extra touch; off the ball movement wasn't there. "That's what we asked the guys to be better at in the second half, just make sure off-the-ball movement is better and balls are moving quicker. Cavalry does a good job once they drop back at really keeping the lines tight, challenging for balls in front of their backline, so we needed to keep it shifting a bit quicker." They certainly left it late, but the more dangerous second-half version of Forge was ultimately rewarded. In the first half, they might have moved the ball around more looking for a better opening rather than sending a speculative ball into the box, but with time ticking down Kyle Bekker took a risk -- but the quality of his cross turned that risk into a very dangerous chance that gave Forge the goal they so desperately wanted. Player of the Match

Kyle Bekker, Forge FC The captain put in a tremendous performance, taking over in the second half and ultimately providing the assist for Forge's equalizer. Bekker won all four of his duels, created four chances, had four shots of his own and made a team-high 22 passes in the attacking third.

What’s next?

Both these teams will be at home next weekend, starting with Forge who take on Pacific FC on Saturday, June 10 at Tim Hortons Field (7 p.m. ET). The following day, Cavalry will be at ATCO Field again to welcome Vancouver FC to t heir pitch for the first time (3 p.m. MT/5 p.m. ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.

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