Forge FC opens CPL soccer season with win over Cavalry FC

Hamilton’s Forge FC began the 2024 Canadian Premier League season Saturday afternoon with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over arch rivals Cavalry FC.

Beni Badibanga scored the winning goal in the 76th minute while Tristan Borges had a goal and an assist for Forge, which picked up their first ever season opening match victory.

The game was played under a mainly sunny sky but very strong winds roared down from the Hamilton mountain causing the players some difficulty.

7,395 fans at Tim Hortons Field watched as numerous aerial passes failed to find their mark with 50 km/h winds stunting the ball’s progress or carrying it well off target.

Forge winger David Choinière had the first best opportunity to score for the home side in what was an evenly played, but scoreless first half.  His attempt in the 19th minute to redirect a cross into the far corner of the goal sailed just wide of the post.

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Tobias Warschewski nearly got Cavalry on the scoreboard in the 25th minute but the attacker’s right-footed strike from just beyond the 18-yard box sailed over the corner of the goal.

Centre back Malik Owolabi-Belewu thwarted three Cavalry chances in the box opening 45 minutes as Forge’s back four held firm.

In the 40th minute, following a swift buildup of play in the midfield, Forge captain Kyle Bekker’s attempt at goal from 30 yards out floated high and wide of Cavalry keeper Marco Carducci’s net.

The game nearly had its first tally in the 53rd minute when Cavalry’s Sergio Camargo calmly tried to finesse a shot into the bottom corner of Chris Kalongo’s goal but the ball rolled harmlessly past the far post and out of danger.

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In his 100th appearance for Cavalry, Camargo found his touch in the 60th minute. He accepted a corner kick from the near side of the field and his front-post header sailed over Kalongo and bounced into the back of the goal — the first shot on target for either team.

It took just 10 minutes for Forge to pull even when Borges, who scored the winning goal in the 2023 championship final against Cavalry, took a pass from newcomer Daniel Parra, outmaneuvered two defenders and buried a left footer under a sprawling Carducci.

Forge took its first lead of the contest when Borges and Badibanga executed a nifty give-and-go in the Cavalry box that the Belgian blasted off a helpless defender and into the net.

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With the win, Forge improved to 13-7-7 all-time against Cavalry.

Forge FC’s next game is April 21 at York United.

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