Forge draws 1st blood against Cavalry in red-card laden finals 1st-leg victory
Tristan Borges curls winner before being sent off as both teams drop to 10 men
Leg 1 of the Canadian Premier League Finals was low on goals, but very high on drama and entertainment value.
Both teams finished the game with 10 men, as Forge earned a 1-0 win via Tristan Borges' first-half goal before 10, 486 fans at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday evening.
WATCH | Forge win leg 1 with Borges' lone goal:
Cavalry was forced to play a man down after defender Joel Waterman was issued a red card in the 37th minute. Forge also had a man sent off when Borges saw red in the 69th minute.
Forge holds the advantage in the aggregate series, as a draw next week in Calgary will see them win Finals 2019. But Saturday's victory was costly for Forge, as the expulsion of Borges, the CPL's top scorer, means he will be suspended for Leg 2.
Carducci keeps it close
Saturday's contest started with a quick tempo, before quickly settling down as both clubs took a more cautious approach and began to feel each other out. Forge captain Kyle Bekker nearly broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when he fired a thunderbolt of a shot that crashed against the crossbar.
Minutes later, the ball fell to Borges inside the box and as he headed towards the goal, Waterman slid across and handled the ball. The defender was shown a straight red card for denying a clear scoring opportunity (he'll be suspended for Leg 2), and Cavalry had to play a man short for the remainder of the match.
Borges stepped up to the spot, only to see Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci came up with a fabulous leg save to repel his penalty attempt. The visitors escaped another close call minutes later when Daniel Krutzen's free kick from 25 yards out hit the crossbar.
But the visitors' good fortune ran out in first-half injury time. Chris Nanco made an exquisite move down the left flank to masterfully pull away from two Cavalry players before feeding Borges, who curled a gorgeous shot from just inside the box past Carducci and into the upper corner. The goal was Borges' season-leading 13th of the campaign.
The home side poured on the pressure to start the second half, with Carducci coming up with a big save to deny Nanco inside the box, and David Edgar's rebound attempt smacked the crossbar.
Tensions boiled over in the 69th minute when Borges and Cavs defender Jay Wheeldon crashed into each other while challenging for a 50/50 ball. A small a melee ensued, and Borges was shown a red card as he was judged to have kicked out at Wheeldon.
2nd leg awaits
Forge continued to press for a second card, only to be met by a sturdy Cavalry resistance the rest of the way.
Listed as day-to-day in the buildup before the game, captain Nik Ledgerwood overcame a head knock to start for Cavalry. Forge was missing defenders Dominic Samuel and Bertrand Owundi (both suspended).
Saturday marked the eighth meeting in 2019 between Forge and the Cavs, including their second-round Canadian Championship series.
Leg 2 of Finals 2019 is scheduled for next Saturday at ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows in Calgary.
WATCH | fist-leg action between Forge FC and Cavalry FC:
John Molinaro is the director of content for the Canadian Premier League. His piece has been published with the permission of the CPL.