Final Score: Forge FC 1-1 Atletico Ottawa
Scorers: Jensen 47′; Bassett 17′
2022 Season Match: 21
CPL match: 272
Match in a minute or less
Forge FC and Atlético Ottawa shared the spoils on Saturday afternoon at Tim Hortons Field, as standout goals from Ollie Bassett and Noah Jensen were enough to produce a 1-1 draw between the two Ontario teams. Although Forge had a huge advantage in possession and vastly outscored the visitors, a second goal slipped past them and the tight-fisted Ottawa defense held their own to claim a well-deserved point away from home.
Forced Forge to a makeshift fluid backline with no healthy CBs
Bobby Smyrniotis didn’t have the easiest hand for this match, as none of his natural center backs were in a fit state to play. Alex Achinioti-Jönsson, as he has done on many occasions for Forge, came in at the baseline and left-back Ashtone Morgan joined him at centre-back.
Forge opted for a fluid defensive form, which functioned as a three defense in possession (with Aboubacar Sissoko playing to the right of Achinioti-Jönsson), but often turned into a four defense when defending, as the Kwasi Poku of the left side backed up when necessary. and from time to time a five, when David Choinière backed down the right side.
The tactic worked particularly well in possession, with Achinioti-Jönsson’s ability to launch passes to both sides giving Forge a good anchor back. Poku and Choinière also managed to get high up the touchlines and into the box thanks to Sissoko and Morgan sitting pretty wide on the back three while Forge had the ball.
Defensively, Forge might not have been as solid as they would be with the natural center backs down the line and they gave quite a bit of space to the Ottawa forwards, particularly 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 goal, one of which was the goal.
“Have you ever seen a team play without center backs?” Smyrniotis joked after the match. “We’ve done it today and we’ve done a good job with it. We have guys who are versatile. He makes your head spin a bit as a coach, but there is always a solution in how you are going to get the best out of the different players.
“Today it was Jönsson, who’s been great playing that kind of pivot there, and Ashtone and Abou, they’re great at allowing us to advance the ball a little bit quicker down the pitch by playing against a low block, something I’ve done in the past. last two games since Wednesday.”
He added: “The guys were very good with the ball. How they were defensive, I think it was okay, but they didn’t have much to do, so maybe another day will be a little different. But we are always going to find the solution, we are never going to 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.
Atletico Ottawa lockout isolates Borges and Forge in midfield
With Ottawa defending in a tight 4-4-2 formation, Forge knew early on that they were in for a tough afternoon trying to break down the screen and get touches in the middle of the field.
The visitors did an excellent job of blocking the passing lanes down the middle and in doing so effectively neutralized the threat of Tristan Borges, who was playing in a number 10 role below Forge’s two forwards. Whenever Forge tried to build an attack from behind, rather than a quick transition play, Ottawa was very deliberate in guarding the center channels, and Borges in particular, to prevent Forge from making incisive passes into the box.
Talented player that he is, Borges still created three good chances for Forge, and was credited with an assist on Jensen’s goal, but was only really able to come to life in moments of open transition where he allowed long passes or game changes. Forge to bypass midfield and play past it before Ottawa had time to settle.
Still, the pairing of Ollie Bassett and Abdou Sissoko in the middle did an excellent job of keeping their form and cutting down midfield lanes. Ottawa assistant coach Kwesi Loney, who was patrolling the sidelines in place of the suspended Carlos Gonzalez, explained that he is impressed with the partnership developing between Bassett and Sissoko.
“We found that those two are now starting to create a little more synergy together, starting to read each other’s movement a little better,” Loney said. “Obviously playing with two in the middle needs to cover a little bit more ground and there needs to be a better understanding of that space, and we found they did a really good job.”
Forge left to ruin missed opportunities, wasted game pieces
The Hammers are likely to leave this game feeling like they left two points on the table, considering the volume and quality of the chances they weren’t able to nail down. Shooting 67.7% possession in the afternoon, they generated 16 shots to Ottawa’s six, but only three of them managed to land.
Forge’s 37 touches in the box and 58 tackles in the final thirds, as well as his 43 crosses, paint a picture of the kind of blitz they pulled off in the Ottawa penalty area, but they continued to lack the clinical edge needed to convert more. of those opportunities into goals.
In more positive news, however, Forge was able to work on a new attacking structure, with natural forwards Terran Campbell and Woobens Pacius playing fairly closely together in a two-man attacking pairing, rather than the three forwards they have fielded in the most games. .
Bobby Smyrniotis was quite pleased with the first signs of that pair facing each other, though the finish left something to be desired: Campbell got some pretty good looks at the goal, but he hesitated maybe a split second too long and his shot was blocked.
“We have different things that we will look at,” Smyrniotis said. “It’s something we worked on a lot in the preseason this year, working on different setups and basically how we fill the zones where we want to be with different players against different opponents, and sometimes it’s also imposed on you by who you have available.”
The Forge boss added: “But again, we thought this was good, seeing Woobens and Terran playing together. I think they were very good in their movement, and we’ve had a lot of chances around the goal, but they haven’t gone in”.
Pacius finished with a team-high four shots and seven touches in the box, while Campbell gave up two shots, though he won’t get credit for a third in which he was flagged offside. If Forge can get that combination to click like a two-hit combination, they may be able to start turning more of the possession they’ve enjoyed all year into goals.
CanPL.ca Man of the Match
Ollie Bassett, Ottawa Athletic
Aside from his goal, which was an exceptional finish after a delightful link-up play, Bassett put in a very solid performance in midfield as a box-to-box midfielder, covering a lot of ground defensively and helping to jump. some counterattacks.
Both sides will hit the road next weekend. Forge will travel to Halifax for a Friday night clash with HFX Wanderers on May 20 (6 pm ET/7 pm AT), while Atlético Ottawa will be in Alberta to play FC Edmonton on Sunday May 22 (4 pm ET). /2 pm MT).
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