It had all the makings of a classic battle of old foes, but Forge FC and Cavalry FC ultimately could not be separated on Saturday night at Tim Hortons Field, as the two rivals fought to a 0-0 draw under the lights.
In anticipation of this massive title race clash, both managers deployed strong sides. Forge gave last week’s hat-trick hero Woobens Pacius and Golden Boot candidate Terran Campbell the start up front, while 18-year-old Khadim Kane started in midfield after a strong half-hour shift in Vancouver the prior week.
Cavalry, meanwhile, kept attacking weapons William Akio and Ali Musse on the bench, although fullback Tom Field got the nod at left wingback, making his first professional start since Nov. 17, 2021 — ironically, also a visit to Tim Hortons Field.
In a game of such high stakes, it was natural that the opening stages were a little cagey, with just two shots (both for Forge) in the first 15 minutes. Béni Badibanga found some space outside of the box at one point and opted to fizz a shot toward goal, which had the power to cause serious problems but goalkeeper Marco Carducci parried it well.
Forge had a few other chances in the first half, but so did Cavalry, who attacked quite directly and found a few solid chances from set-pieces, but like Forge couldn’t put one in the net before halftime.
The second half continued in similar fashion, although Cavalry began to get further up the field with the ball; Sergio Camargo had a very good chance when the ball came to him unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box, but he couldn’t wrap his foot around it enough to keep the ball below the bar.
Shortly after, Forge had perhaps their best chance of the match so far, as the ball came over the top and Pacius was nearly in all alone, but Daan Klomp made an extraordinary clearance, swinging his leg up to get a touch on the ball and direct it to safety.
Both managers went to their bench around the hour mark; Bobby Smyrniotis opted to bolster his midfield with by bringing in Aboubacar Sissoko, while Tommy Wheeldon Jr. added Fraser Aird and Ali Musse to the mix in search of a goal. Ten minutes later, Wheeldon also saw fit to add William Akio — last week’s 97th-minute hero — in an effort to find the elusive opening score.
With rain starting to fall lightly in the second half and the pitch getting slick, the game opened up quite a bit in the later moments, with Cavalry in particular buzzing around the Forge box after around the 80th minute.
In the end, though, the two sides could not solve one another, as Cavalry remained atop the league table with a 0-0 draw.
38′ — Yellow: Jesse Daley (Cavalry FC) 48′ — Yellow: Tom Field (Cavalry FC)