Cavalry FC wrapped up ‘The Kickoff’ portion of the 2021 Canadian Premier League season with a 2-1 victory over 2020 CPL champions Forge FC in Winnipeg Thursday.
And Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. had nothing but praise for his players who were asked to adjust systems multiple times during Thursday’s game.
“I’m proud of the lads,” said Wheeldon Jr. after the game. “They stuck to the tactical plan. We had to change it one or two times. And to do that on the fly, in the final game of (The Kickoff), it takes some doing. They were terrific.”
Novak scores in second straight match
Former Forge FC striker Anthony Novak opened the scoring for the Cavs in the 12th minute, before Ali Musse doubled the Calgary club’s lead in the 33rd minute. Musse left the pitch with an injury soon after.
Forge’s Molham Babouli scored from the spot in the 85th minute to cut the lead in half. But that’s as close as Hamilton’s club got, thanks in large part Cavalry’s game management.
“Tonight was down to a combination of the effort and the tactics,” said goalscorer Novak. “We got both spot on I think. They came out slightly differently than what we had planned for. And we adjusted on the fly. And then it came down to pure effort.
“I think we worked them tonight. And I think the scoreline reflects that.”
Cavalry FC returning home
The Cavs leave the eight-game Winnipeg bubble in third place on 14 points, with the CPL’s season now returning to its clubs’ home markets for each team’s remaining 20 matches.
But for Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr., what he’s learned about his roster may be as important as the points they’ve earned over the last 26 days.
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“We’re certainly evolving,” he said. “We’re younger. We’re more dynamic. We’ve still got those seasoned vets – you’ve seen today Nik Ledgerwood was like Peter Pan. There’s a really nice blend. Now we’re starting to get that chemistry.”
“To use the All Blacks (New Zealand rugby team) philosophy, there’s no dickheads. We want to make sure we’re a team that’s hard to play against. But off the pitch, we’re great in the community and a great club. And we represent out crest very, very well.
Forge FC disappointed with points return in Winnipeg
Forge FC leave Winnipeg with four wins and as many losses on 12 points and currently sit in fourth place.
And for Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis that return is a little disappointing.
“We knew where we were with our (preseason) preparation, which was minimal,” said Smyrniotis. “(But) if we come out of this (first eight games) with 15 points we’d be happy. That’s why we’re a little bit upset today.”
And he expected the Hamilton club to pick up some points against the Cavs before heading back to Ontario, but blamed a slow start for Thursday’s result.
“We were’t good enough in first 45 minutes,” said Smyrniotis. “The energy wasn’t there. We needed to have energy in the second 45 minutes. We wanted to make sure we had a better half, better 45 minutes and see where the result brings us. And maybe if there’s another 5 minutes on the clock we get another goal.”