This match was a tale of two very different halves. In the first half York pressed a Forge team that looked slow in its ball movement and decision-making. But the second half would see the return of the team that their fans had been missing.
Though York seemed more energetic and focused in the first half than the hosts, they didn’t trouble Triston Henry much. In fact, after about 30 minutes of mostly York highlights, the best chances started to fall Forge’s way. Despite not playing very attractive footy in the opening half an hour, Forge kept their defensive shape and minimized opportunities for the visitors. It was Forge that had the first really good chance on a wonderful cross from Borges that somehow eluded two players in the six-yard box. Next it was Poku with a wonderful chance that he skied from 5 yards out.
A little more experience will bring with it a touch more composure, as he really should have hit the net. Poku would have another clear chance later on a great cross from Sissoko, but possibly with the memory of his earlier miss, was of two minds and hit something between a shot and a cross that didn’t trouble the keeper. Choiniere made a couple of opportunities for himself and hit the net, but not dangerously.
At the other end, Henry was at his Henry-est best, living on the edge, racing off the line and out of the box to beat Kratt to a breakaway ball that he then calmly played to his midfield before scampering miles back to his goal. And it was perhaps that energy that led to the save of the match right at the death of the half. Petrasso went on winding run full of determination knowing there was not much time before the whistle. He found his way past the usually solid Forge defence and let fly an almost sure goal towards the top corner. Fortunately for Forge, Henry was there to make the game’s biggest save. And it was huge, and no doubt part of the reason a new Forge team came out in the second half.
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Right of the whistle in the second half Forge took control of the game. Campbell, who has been a good playmaker this season set up Borges with a clear sight on goal, but Himaras was up to the task. Then it was pressure leading to set plays that got Forge on top. First it was a corner from Borges that a diving AAJ barely missed turning in on goal from close range. But it resulted in another corner, and after playing it short Borges got a return pass and put it right where it needed to be.
The imposing young defender, Owolubi-Belewu, swooped in and headed it home despite the fingertips of the York keeper just flicking the cross. And later, a York defender would scuff a clearance of yet another corner, and unfortunately it would fall to the reborn Aboubacar Sissoko who would lash in his fourth of the season with a laser to the top right corner. All that was left now was for Forge to see out the match. They made some substitutions and got more players some valuable minutes, including Chris Nanco who looked in form. All in all, it was a good performance from Forge. They clinched a playoff berth and kept their slim hopes of a second straight regular season championship alive.
So, what does this all mean for Forge? Well not much if they don’t take care of business on Wednesday vs PFC. They have given themselves a chance to climb up the regular season rankings. But as all Forge fans are aware, Mo Babouli was the player that made York tick over this excellent run at the end of the season. With him out of the lineup, anything less than a comprehensive win would have been a big disappointment.
So, Bobby will get the boys ready to go again against a Pacific team that has turned it on when they’ve needed to, and they’ve got themselves back into the playoff picture. This will be a test to see if the two-time champs are really rounding into form at the right time. I would never bet against this team come crunch time. They are steeped in big-pressure games here and abroad. But a win against Pacific would put some pressure on the Atleti side that is deservedly chasing their first ever silverware. I have confidence that this team can get one over on their fellow champions from out west. And then it is all to play for.
Regardless of the outcomes of the next few games, Bobby has got his boys ready for the next stage. In my opinion, it is going to be a fun watch down the road towards another possible NorthStar Shield.
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