Forge FC too good as they beat Atletico Ottawa and move into 1st place
Goals from Krutzen and Choinière sealed a comfortable victory for Forge FC against a lacklustre Atletico side on a sunny afternoon in Charlottetown.
An electric start to the first-half saw both teams have a couple of excellent chances in the opening 15-minutes of another new Ontario derby. Anthony Novak wasting a gilt-edged chance before hitting the post minutes later.
At the other end, Francisco Acuña was unable to find the shooting boots he wore against Cavalry, snatching at a gifted opportunity before choosing to pass when, arguably, he should've shot - with the chance coming to nothing.
The breakthrough came 10-minutes before the break as Daniel Krutzen headed in at the back post from Maxim Tissot's corner. A goal that keeper Nacho Zabal will want to erase from his memory as he mistimed his jump, leaving the Belgian centre-back to tap into an open net.
In a second-half of few chances, it took almost 45-minutes for Forge FC to double their lead. Substitute David Choiniere toe-poking the ball past Zabal from 6-yards out to make it 2-0 and put the result out of Atletico's reach.
Forge take control after a rare goalkeeping error from Zabal
There was an intense start to the first-half of this new Ontarian derby as both teams exchanged a couple of early opportunities.
The first chance of the game came after five-minutes as, after a neat interchange down the right-wing between Chris Nanco and Elimane Cisse, the 25-year-old Senegalese midfielder drilled the ball into the 6-yard area. Target man Novak couldn't sort his feet out quickly enough and the ball deflected off of him and rolled into the gloves of Zabal.
With the next ten minutes, both teams came close again. In an attempt to play out of the back, Forge FC captain, Kyle Bekker, played a reckless pass straight to Atletico Ottawa's danger man, Acuña, on the edge of the 18-yard box. In atypical fashion, the Mexican play-maker rushed his chance and snatched at his shot, making for an easy for Triston Henry.
At the other end, Novak once again found himself in a dangerous position as Forge FC continued to find joy down their right flank. This time the Canadian striker made a better connection, though his flick at the near post couldn't beat the upright.
Atletico Ottawa's high pressure, which is rapidly becoming a part of the identity of the Ontarian side, almost paid off again. Winning the ball high up the field, Acuña had an excellent opportunity to unleash a shot on goal. The 32-year-old decided instead to pay the ball infield to Mohamed Kourouma who was crowded out unable to trouble the keeper.
The pace of the game started to slow after 20-minutes as Forge FC took more control over the game, the Hamilton side coming close when an in-swinging free-kick was missed by three onrushing Forge players before bouncing narrowly wide.
Their pressure paid off though as, after a series of corners, Belgian centre-back Daniel Krutzen found the breakthrough after a calamitous goalkeeping error by the veteran Spaniard. Zabal misjudged the flight of Maxim Tissot's delivery leaving Krutzen unmarked to nod home at the back-post.
Atletico came close to drawing level just before the break as Acuna broke forward, choosing to ignore the run made to his right by Malcolm Shaw before laying in the ball into the path of captain Ben Fisk. The former Pacific FC player took the shot on early and, though it lacked pace, had Triston Henry at full stretch to make the save.
Unimaginative Atletico crumbles under Forge's Hammer.
Ottawa came out of the gates the fastest in the second half, putting pressure on Forge FC as they hunted for an equaliser. After losing the ball in the attacking third, Acuna's high press paid off as he knocked the ball into the feet of Kourouma.
The 30-year-old Guinean moved the ball out of his feet, curling a shot from the left-hand side of the 18-yard box but, his effort was high, not troubling Henry.
As the second-half progressed, the intensity of the game dropped. Atletico controlled more of the ball, probing at the edge of Forge's box but some tired legs and a lack of creativity combined with solid defending from the Hamilton-side kept Ottawa at bay.
We weren't treated to another chance on goal until the 75th-minute when second-half substitute, Molham Babouli, drifting right unleashed a 20-yard-strike back across goal. The shot had Zabal at full stretch but bounced harmlessly wide.
Despite several changes, Atletico weren't able to find any incision in the final third, whereas the players brought on by Bobby Smyrniotis gave the Hamilton-based team a new lease of life.
Eager to impress, 80th-minute substitute David Choinière rounded off Forge's performance as he doubled their lead nine minutes after coming on. Receiving a reverse pass from Paolo Sabak, Choinière drifted past Gianfranco Facchineri before toe-poking a power shot out of Zabal's reach.
Atletico Ottawa weren't able to pull one back in the time remaining, with their chance on the 95th-minute, a free-kick on the right, not beating the first man. An accurate summation of their second-half success in the final third.
As well as scoring the game's opening goal, Belgian defender Krutzen commanded well at the back, defending in a composed manner and distributing the ball forward well.