HAMILTON, ON – Forge FC are back, at least against FC Edmonton. The two-time Canadian Premier league Champions picked up their first win of 2022 on Saturday, as Terran Campbell’s brace propelled them to a 3-0 win against the Eddies.
In a match that was nearly must-win for Forge, they got their forwards rolling and trampled the loan army from Alberta, earning a critical three points to ensure their place among the league’s elite for at least another week.
FC Edmonton visited Hamilton and played their low block from the outset, making sure that no Hamilton players could find space behind and, through 20 minutes, looked to be in the driver’s seat. It took a penalty rebound goal from Terran Campbell just after the half-hour mark to break the deadlock before the former Pacific striker linked up with Tristan Borges for the second goal and added a third in the 69th minute to ensure the 3-0 victory.
How it happened:
It took half an hour, but Forge managed to find their way through a very structured Edmonton defence. While Forge began the match in a more attacking formation, subtly using a 3-5-2, it took a while for them to break down Edmonton’s low block.
Through the first 30 minutes, Edmonton held on and limited space for Forge’s ball carrier, while at the same time cutting down potential passing lanes. As Forge dropped into deeper pockets, they did not take the direct ball over the top, costing them earlier opportunities.
It took until the 34th minute for Forge to find the breakthrough as Edmonton’s Marcus Simmons got caught with a high boot to Garven Metusala, costing his team a penalty. Edmonton’s Andreas Vaikla stopped Campbell’s initial shot, but the former Pacific striker finished off the rebound to give his side a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Getting off the schneid was critical for Campbell, as vital as it was for Forge; it’s why he got the PK chance in place of Borges. However, moments later, he linked up with Borges for the second goal, getting on a ball out wide, keeping his head up and finding the 2019 CPL Golden Boot winner on the cross.
The linkup between the two forwards has the potential to spur one of the best-attacking duos in CPL history and turn the tides for a Forge side that had looked lacklustre until Saturday.
After halftime, the play opened up for both sides, as Edmonton drove to get a goal, allowing Hamilton to drive on the counterattack. In the 69th minute, Campbell was the only forward in the attacking centre channel and caught Edmonton’s trio of defenders ball watching before getting on the end the cross and finishing in tight.
“Campbell is going to score a lot of goals here; that’s something I’m sure of… he’s the guy in the box, making those critical runs that are very important for us,” Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis said post-match. “I’m happy for him because obviously, for a striker, you want to have that success and feel the back of the net, which keeps the momentum going forward.
While Edmonton’s defence likely should have seen Campbell sliding into the hole in front of goal, it was more so the attacker’s run than a fault by the defence. However, it was still dissipating for Edmonton head coach Alan Koch, who described the match as “boys against men.”
Terran Campbell gets off the mark:
Terran Campbell is back scoring goals in the CPL, and although his strike came from a penalty, he has found a comfortable position in the Forge lineup. After beginning his Hamilton career on the wing, Smyrytios shifted him into his traditional role down the middle, and he thrived from the first kick on Saturday.
“It’s just comfort, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I think that’s been our most comfortable role, the role that I like playing so it was good to finally try it out.”,
In addition to his brace, there’s burgeoning chemistry between Borges and Campbell, playing in front of Becker and Johnson and finding spaces behind backlines. While Edmonton plays a low block and keeps defenders deep, Forge had players in behind, including Campbell who made several threatening runs that paid off three times.
Getting off the mark is crucial not only for Campbell but also for Forge, who need diversity in their scoring to find success. With their new striker getting started, opponents will have to focus on an array of talented forwards, making the Forge attack more dynamic than it has been through 2022.
Achinioti-Jönsson finds his stride in deep pockets
While the two attackers found their chemistry, they were able to combine with the midfield pivots of Kyle Bekker and Alex Achinioti-Jönsson. For Achinioti-Jönsson, it was his ability to pull the strings in deep pockets in the midfield and, although he showed some early hesitancy, eventually found chances in behind.
Looking at his pass spread map, there are many more successful passes. His ability to find players out wide before moving the ball centrally proved critical to taking control of the match amid Edmonton’s organized defensive structure.
While the Swedish midfielder traditionally does better in advanced positions, his qualities proved fruitful in defensive areas, with attackers clicking on all cylinders. His impact and distribution were unparalleled throughout the match and were integral to the final result.
Coming off their first loss of the season, things don’t get any easier for FC Edmonton with cross-country travel on the horizon. Returning from Hamilton, they host a hot Pacific FC side midweek before heading east to take on Halifax next weekend. Flying from Edmonton to Halifax is no easy task, and doing it after a trip to Ontario is simply insult to injury.
For Forge, the outlook is a little rosier. They have a trip to Winnipeg next week to take on a Valour side that is the most mysterious in the CPL throughout the season, but with a win under their belt, they will walk into IG Field with a bit of swagger.