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Forge FC Advance to Canadian Premier League Final

Oakville's Kyle Bekker will be suspended for the the championship match.
Oakville's Kyle Bekker makes a sliding challenge. | Forge FC

After drawing away 0-0 in Calgary last weekend, the expectation coming into Sunday's Canadian Premier League Semi-Final second leg was that it would be a cagey affair.  All parties involved did their best to minimize mistakes and stick to their game plans through the first half.

For the first 40 minutes, you could be forgiven for dozing off, with chances coming few and far between. Hamilton had the odd near-miss but nothing towards a goal to truly test Cavalry keeper Marco Carducci.

From the outset, Hamilton was focused on foraging runs up the pitch's right side but found no joy in front of the goal.

Forge FC head coach Coach Bobby Smyrniotis said after the game that he had targeted that side of the pitch when setting his tactics before the match.

Specifically, his club was looking to target David Norman Jr,  as the midfielder was playing out of position in the Cavalry back four. 

Then seemingly out of nowhere, a careless play from Forge Captain Kyle Bekker changed the complexion of the game in an instant. 

While tracking a ball in the air, the former Canadian International was shown a straight red in the 43' when he lost sight of his opponent.  He went to bring it down and caught Elijah Adekugbe with a high boot to the face.

Immediately referee Yusri Rudolf reached into his pocket, brandishing a red card.

The red card comes with an automatic suspension that will see the Oakville native forced to watch the final from the stands.

In his post-match comments, Smyrniotis thought the call was "a little harsh" and that the referee "had let a lot of things go. There were some obvious yellow cards we had seen given throughout the season that he wasn't calling."

Forge was bailed out of a desperate situation only moments later, as David Norman Jr had a rush of blood to the head, shoving Forge Midfielder Alessandro Hojabrpour to the ground. Rudolf had no choice but to give Norman Jr a second yellow in the first half, immediately ejecting him from the match. 

If you weren't woken from your slumber at the end of the first half, you indeed would have been given a reason to rise for the second. From the outset, sparks flew. There was plenty of room on the pitch for both teams to penetrate. 

In the 69th minute of the match, the deadlock finally cracked as David Chonierre broke through on the right side of the pitch. He blasted a low ball passed a sprawling Carducci to give Hamilton a 1-0 lead.  

Forge was not content to sit back and rest on their laurels as Tristan Borges snuck into the box in the 75' minute.  He was taken down by a poor challenge from Daan Klopp.  Forge was awarded a penalty and widened the gap as Woobens Pacius made no mistake smashing the spot kick past Carducci.

In the 79th minute, Cavalry pulled within one, as Mayer Bevin slipped a low ball passed Triston Henry after José Escalante danced through the Forge backline feeding him a perfect pass.

The intensity that was missing from the first half was cranked up to the maximum in the moments following the barrage of goals coming all within the span of 10 minutes. 

Try as they might Cavalry we're unable to muster the strength to break through the Forge defence even sending Carducci up the pitch in the dying moments to try and score the equalizer. 

With the victory, Hamilton moves on to their 4th consecutive Canadian Premier League Final and will look to heal the wounds left after losing to Pacific FC in last year's championship.

This year they will face Athletico Ottawa who finished the season at the top of the table in first place. 

Ottawa defeated reigning champs Pacific  3-1 over two legs to reach their first final. Having finished as the top-seed going into the playoffs, they are reqarded with the right to host the match in the nation's capital Sunday, October 30 (6:00 p.m. ET).