Final Score: Forge FC 1-1 Atletico Ottawa
Goalscorers: Jensen 47′; basset 17′
Match of the season 2022: 21
CPL Agreement: 272
Match in a minute or less
Forge FC and Atlético Ottawa split the spoils at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday afternoon as goals from the highlights from Ollie Bassett and Noah Jensen were enough to produce a 1-1 draw between Ontario’s two teams. Although Forge had a huge advantage in possession and beat the visitors hard, a second goal eluded them and the miserly Ottawa defense held their ground and claimed a well-deserved waypoint.
Forced into makeshift liquid backline with no healthy CBs
Bobby Smyrniotis didn’t get the easiest hand for this match, and none of his natural central defenders were fit to play. Alex Achinioti-Jönsson, as he has done for Forge before, stepped into the backline and left-back Ashtone Morgan joined him as centre-back.
Forge opted for a fluid defensive form, functioning as a back-three in possession (with Aboubacar Sissoko playing to Achinioti-Jönsson’s right), but it often morphed into a back-four in defense as the left-sided Kwasi Poku fell back when that was necessary – and the occasional five, when David Choinière fell back on the right-hand side.
The tactic worked particularly well in possession, with Achinioti-Jönsson’s ability to spray passes to both sides, giving Forge a good anchor in the back. Poku and Choinière also managed to get very high down the sidelines and into the penalty area thanks to Sissoko and Morgan sitting quite wide in the back while Forge had the ball.
Defensively, Forge may not have been as solid as they would be with natural central defenders in the line and they gave away quite a bit of space to the Ottawa attackers, especially when Poku was caught high and couldn’t get back time to cover the left side. Still, they defended the (admittedly limited) chances Ottawa created for the most part, holding them to just two shots on target – one of which was the target.
“Have you ever seen a team play without centre-backs?” Smyrniotis joked after the game. “We did it today and we did pretty well. We have guys who are versatile. It makes your head spin a bit as a coach, but there is always a solution to get the best out of different players.
“Today it was Jönsson, who played excellent as that kind of pivot there, and Ashtone and Abou, they are excellent at getting us to get the ball a little faster on the pitch by playing against a low block, something we have done in the last few games going back to Wednesday.”
He added: “The boys were very good with the ball. How they were defensively I think it was ok but they didn’t have much to do so maybe another day it will be a little different. But we will always find the solution, we will never complain when someone is missing.”
Versatility and adaptability have always been a trademark of Forge FC in the CPL, and Saturday was just the latest chapter in the impressive tactical book this club continues to write.
Atlético Ottawa block isolates Borges, Forge midfield
With Ottawa defending in a compact 4-4-2 formation, Forge knew from the start they would have a tough afternoon breaking the block and hitting the ball in the center of the field.
The visitors did an excellent job blocking through lanes through the centre, effectively neutralizing the threat from Tristan Borges, who played a number 10 role under Forge’s double striker. Whenever Forge tried to build an attack from the back – as opposed to a quick transition game – Ottawa was very deliberate in shielding the central channels, and Borges in particular, to prevent Forge from making sharp passes into the penalty area.
The talented player that he is, Borges still created three good chances for Forge, and he got an assist on Jensen’s goal, but he could only really come to life in moments of open, transitional pace where long balls or game changes made it possible Forge to bypass and play past midfield before Ottawa had time to set itself up.
Still, the combination of Ollie Bassett and Abdou Sissoko in the middle did an excellent job of holding their form and cutting lanes in the middle of the field. Ottawa’s assistant coach, Kwesi Loney, who has been patrolling the sidelines in place of the suspended Carlos González, explained that he is impressed with the partnership between Bassett and Sissoko.
“We found that now those two are starting to create a little more synergy with each other and start reading each other’s movement a little bit better,” Loney said. “Obviously when you’re playing with two in the middle you have to cover a little more ground and there has to be a better understanding of that space, and we’ve found that they’ve done a really good job.”
Forge links to ruin missed opportunities, wasted set-pieces
The Hammers will likely leave this game feeling like they have two points on the table, given the volume and quality of the chances they couldn’t finish. With 67.7% possession for the afternoon, they produced 16 shots off Ottawa’s six, but only managed to put three on target.
Forge’s 37 goals in the penalty area and 58 final third entries, as well as their 43 crosses, paint a picture of the kind of bombing they carried out on the Ottawa penalty area, but they continued to lack the clinical lead needed to get more of those opportunities. turn into goals.
More positive, though, was that Forge could work on a new attack structure, with natural strikers Terran Campbell and Woobens Pacius playing fairly close together in a two-man attack pair, rather than the front three they’ve deployed in most games. †
Bobby Smyrniotis was quite pleased with the early signs of that combination playing each other, although the finish left something to be desired – Campbell had some very good looks at goal but hesitated perhaps a split second too long and his shot was blocked .
“We have several things that we will look at,” Smyrniotis said. “It’s something that we’ve been working on a lot in the preseason this year, working on different lineups and basically how we occupy the zones we want to be in with different players against different opponents – and sometimes it’s also forced on you by who you have available .”
The Forge boss added: “But again we thought this was a good one as Woobens and Terran played together. I thought they were very good at their movement and we had a lot of chances around goal but it went there not for them.”
Pacius finished with four shots and a team-high seven touches in the penalty area, while Campbell delivered two shots – though he won’t be credited for a third shot where he was marked offside. If Forge can make that clutch click like a dual strike clutch, maybe they can turn more of the ball possession they’ve enjoyed all year into goals.
CanPL.ca Player of the match
Ollie Bassett, Atletico Ottawa
Other than his goal – which was an exceptional finish after a delightful bit of link-up play – Bassett delivered a very strong mid-park performance as a box-to-box midfielder, defending plenty of ground and helping spring few counter attacks.
Both parties will be on the road next weekend. Forge a trip to Halifax for a Friday night clash with HFX Wanderers on May 20 (6:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM AT), while Atlético Ottawa will be in Alberta to play FC Edmonton on May 22 (4:00 PM ET) / 14:00 MT).
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