One team is trying to clinch a playoff spot and give themselves a chance to win the league. The other playing out the string, auditioning individually for jobs next year and keeping up their pride. In the end, that cancelled them out.
It is easy to say that Forge should have won this game. They have a more talented and experienced team on paper. They manhandled the Eddies in the Hammer 5-1 back in July. Surely with so much on the line for the Hamilton side, now was the perfect opportunity to turn things around and get out of this late-season slump. It sure looked like it was early. But the Eddies had other ideas.
It was classic Forge early on. Some sustained pressure and ball control. With Pacius breaking away for a chance to go 1-on-1 with the keeper, it seemed inevitable that the away side would take an early lead. And first half of the season Woobens Pacius would agree. But in the 7th minute Pacius would strike the woodwork after perhaps letting the ball run just a bit too far. Hard to fault a player who looked so calm and missed his 11th of the season by the width of the upright. But Darlington Murasiranwa was up to the task on the rebound that Campbell struck sweetly but watched the Eddies’ keeper push it beyond the far post to safety. That would continue to be the story for the Eddies on defense. Darlington involved.
Next up was a Borges free kick, but Murasiranwa hero again with a diving save on a well-struck ball. Surely it was just a matter of time before FCE’s luck failed to hold. But it was the Eddies who would have the ball in the back of the net first. Unfortunately for Eddies’ attacker CJ Smith, the defensive line of at the back caught him offside.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
Later it was a familiar scenario, a beautiful pass springing Pacius through on goal, 1-on-1. This time it was the keeper, not the post as Murasiranwa made himself big and Woobens was left to ponder what it would take to get back on the scoresheet. Kascher would force Henry into a sharp save, and it was evident that the Eddies were not just here to make up the numbers. While Forge may have had the more clearcut chances, the Eddies had chances to strike as well.
Finally, Forge would find their goal. This time it was Darlington making a rare error. Campbell’s shot struck his defender and looped high, and the change of direction seemed innocuous. But it gave the keeper time to tie his own feet in knots and an ugly goal broke the ice. It came after FC Edmonton had taken the play to Forge to start the 2nd half, and it seemed extra harsh as a result.
And then Forge gifted CJ Smith the goal they had denied him earlier. A quick lapse and Borges kicked the ball back and off his own defender, the deflection sending Smith in alone and this time he would make no mistake. Perhaps a stronger hand on the ball from Henry could have been expected, but the giveaway was all too familiar in this stretch for the Hamilton defence. Both teams created a few more half-chances, but no one could cap it off.
However, there was one late chance to come. An ill-advised foul on the edge of the box saw Luke Singh pick up his second yellow and a trip to the showers in the 93rd minute. Now down to ten men the Eddies set up to defend a Jordan Hamilton free kick. Except for the second time in the game, the hero was the Edmonton woodwork. A wonder strike from Hamilton almost made all forgiven from the Forge faithful who have been waiting patiently for him to break out and show them why he was so highly touted.
So, it was another draw. The stats were very even. But with two breakaways, a goalpost and a crossbar, the Forge seemed to have all the makings of three points at their fingertips. Somehow, the goals that were raining in earlier this season are finding ways to stay out of the net. The slump continues. But it wasn’t just unlucky. Edmonton made the veteran side work, and these young guns deserved their point.
Can any bright spots be picked out for the Forge? Sure. The play of Chris Nanco looked sprightly. Woobens Pacius is putting himself in a position to score, and at some point, the law of averages suggests the dam will burst. Campbell is creating opportunities. They are creating chances even without their captain who still has one more game on the sidelines.
Bobby won’t panic. But for the first time in these early years of the CPL, it is safe to say that Hamilton fans are very nervous. Will the real Forge FC be back in time for a serious run down the stretch?
Three dates in Hamilton will tell the tale.
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