HFX Wanderers 0-3 Forge FC – CPL Game #42 – Canadian Premier League

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Result: HFX Wanderers 0-3 Forge FC
Scorers: Pacius 15′, Jensen 25′, Welshman 84′
Game of the season 2022: 42
CPL match: 293


Match in a minute or less:

For the second time in a month at the Wanderers Grounds, Forge FC came to Halifax hungry on Sunday and walked away with all three points.

Wooben’s Pacius gave Forge an early lead in the 15th minute, firing a shot home from close range after David Choiniere did all the work down the right and played a deflected pass in the young striker’s path. Another Forge youngster, midfielder Noah Jensen, doubled the lead ten minutes later by placing a shot into the bottom left corner with his first touch after Choiniere once again found a teammate in the box.

Emery Welshman made the three late and cleaned from six yards after Terran Campbell squeezed through several Wanderers defenders. It was the icing on the cake in a comfortable win for the Hammers, who have now won four games in a row.

Three observations

Forges right side of Choinière and Rama a dynamic duo

Forge’s game plan on Sunday, as has been the case in several games lately, was to get things working on their right flank through David Choiniere and Rezart Rama.

Choiniere is currently playing some of the best football ever at Forge and was instrumental in Forge’s first two goals at Wanderers Grounds. On the first, he took a heel pass from Rama before cutting through four Wanderers players and attempting to slice the ball back across the box. It was deflected on the way forward so it doesn’t officially count as an assist, but the ball found its way to Wooben’s Pacius, who smashed the ball into the bottom right corner for his second goal in as many games.

Choiniere collected an assist on Forge’s second goal and ran down the right touchline before playing the ball to Noah Jensen, who also hit the back of the net with his first touch, this time to the bottom left corner.

The duo also worked well with Forge’s right central midfielder (and former Wanderers player) Aboubacar Sissoko, creating intricate passing plays down the right flank that opposing players failed to defend. Sissoko started the season as a substitute at right-back but since Rama’s return to midfield he has re-established himself as one of the league’s best.

“It’s a pretty good duo, that’s the easiest way to put it,” said Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis. “Rama is a player I don’t think we talk about a lot. He came in here and has established himself as the best right-back in this league – he wins every tackle from a standing position, he’s excellent at his ball movement and his assessment of situations.

“I think that gives a lot of confidence in what David Choiniere is doing going forward. They keep it easy between the two of them, they know where to go, where to go and I think that helps. Add Abou Sissoko to that triangle they make a lot on the right and I think they were absolutely brilliant.

“Players have to stand up when their number is called”: Wanderers need more substitutes when key players are out

HFX were absent from several key players on Sunday, including crucial midfielders Andre Rampersad and Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, and striker Akeem Garcia – and those absences were certainly felt.

Pierre Lamothe and Marcello Polisi were the midfield substitutes and while both are clearly talented players, they lack some of the leadership and guts in midfield that the more experienced Rampersad and Gagnon-Laparé offer. At the top, Garcia may struggle at times to actually find the back of the net, but he can at least get into the right positions to score, something his substitute Alex Marshall couldn’t do on Sunday.

There were a few sloppy giveaways in midfield that led to Forge chances, particularly on the second goal scored by Noah Jensen, or players – not just midfielders – were thrown out of position without giving them time to recover when the Hammers quickly countered. Jensen and Borges combined to steal the ball from Polisi before Borges put it wide. Both ran into the pits where it was taken back to Jensen for a clinical finish.

Wanderers goalkeeper Christian Oxner told reporters after the game that players need to take opportunities to start games and urged his teammates to be better when given those chances.

“It will be different of course, but that shouldn’t matter,” the HFX netminder said of the players having a chance to start when they normally wouldn’t. “It’s the same guys who sit in the dressing room and get upset that they don’t play. If you get the chance today, you have to take it, that’s football. Guys need to have the mentality to answer when their number is called.

“The loss of one is the chance of the other, it always will be. They have to keep the same level that these guys have when they play.”

Forge points for fun as the winning streak continues

Forge FC, currently the most in-form team in the league, are now five games unbeaten and on a four-game winning streak.

Not only do they pull off 1-0 wins, they dominate the teams. In the last four games they’ve won 3-0 and 4-0 away in Halifax, in Edmonton, where they were the better team but struggled a bit defensively, officiating a 4-3 win and a 3-0 home win Champions Pacific FC.

It doesn’t get much better than 14 goals and four wins in four games, and Forge’s success comes from taking chances. They got into the right areas early in the season but didn’t use those positions, but lately they’ve been clinical.

“If you put the ball in the right areas of the field, you score goals,” Smyrniotis said. “It’s something we didn’t do enough earlier in the season. We got into situations, just didn’t get the ball in the right place and positioned ourselves there. It’s something we talk about and look at in our extended stats and we work on that in training and just make sure the lads understand that it gives us a better opportunity to score goals.

“We all love the highlight reel goals from 30 yards, but those are bonuses. You need these goals in the half-spaces in the penalty area and we know where the last pass comes from, if it’s in there we have a lot of access to the opposition’s penalty area and the last third. The boys are coming to the end and I think we just have to keep that up.”

With their recent rise, Forge are now fourth in the table, three points behind Halifax. They are one point behind Atletico Ottawa, two behind Pacific FC and three behind first place Cavalry FC – at least a game behind all of these teams, including three on Pacific.

They also have a lot of home games ahead of them so they could be in the best position to climb to the top of the table and try to keep the top spot if they maintain their current form.

CanPL.ca Player of the Match

David Choiniere, Forge FC

Forge FC were dangerous all afternoon and their electric winger David Choiniere played a big part in that. He officially only collected one assist, but was also instrumental in Forge’s first goal.

What’s next?

HFX Wanderers are on the move and traveling to the other coast to take on Pacific FC on Saturday, June 25 (2pm PT/6pm AT). Forge has 10 days off and returns home to host Valor FC on Wednesday, June 29 (7pm ET / 6pm CT).

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