They enter Tuesday’s final Island Games group stage match against Cavalry FC with a toe in the CPL Finals, needing just a point to secure their spot.
However, that seems to have changed nothing in the way the defending champions are approaching this match.
“You walk into games to win games,” coach Bobby Smyrniotis told reporters. “You don’t think about anything else, it’s something that we do, doesn’t matter what the situation is.”
He added: “Cavalry is a good team, they’ve shown it over this event. They’ve been a little unstable in some of the games and losing three matches in the event so far. But we’ve taken a very good look at them not only in the last couple of games but earlier on, just to make sure we understand their tendencies and what they like to do very well.”
Last time the two clubs met, it was the opening night of 2020 CPL season, reprising the matchup from Finals 2019. That game ended in a 2-2 draw, with a late penalty saving a point for the Cavs.
Tuesday will be the 11th all-time meeting in just two years between the two team, as they continue to be the two sides in the CPL most familiar with one another. For Smyrniotis, though, the fact that they’ve played Cavalry in so many heated contests doesn’t make a difference in how they prepare.
“Cavalry is an opponent like Halifax, like Pacific, so for us in the pregame talk or leading up to the game there’s nothing special because it’s one opponent or the other,” he said. “It’s an opponent in front of us that has strengths, it’s an opponent in front of us that has weaknesses, and that’s the only way we look at it…
“There’s always one thing that people are talking about, Forge and Cavalry. So I can understand that on the outside a lot, but what we’ve seen is there’s been some good football across this tournament.”
That said, Smyrniotis feels he has a pretty good idea of what Cavalry might look like on Tuesday. With injuries having ravaged their team, it’s been tough for Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side to reach their peak, and now they’re in the difficult position of needing three points to get into the final.
“They’re a team that’s desperate, they need a win,” Smyrniotis pointed out. “They’ve got some injuries, but sometimes that’s dangerous when you look at a team, because now they’re all in.”
Things have, for the most part, gone to plan for Forge. They’ve been remarkably consistent, scoring exactly twice in all but two of their games, which has been good enough to put them at the top of the total goals table. Smyrniotis said recently that he felt they were playing the best attacking football in PEI, making his side the most dangerous in the league.
They’ve lost just once, and drawn three times, and now Forge have earned the right to make Cavalry come at them with desperation.
They can feel the North Star Shield coming closer. But they have two more games to get it.
“The mission was always to be here for six weeks and to do our best to bring back another trophy to Hamilton,” Smyrniotis said. “I think when you have that mindset, and that mindset only, it can put away some of the other stuff of just being inside the bubble for so long and all that comes along with that.
“We’ve got what we hope is five days left here to do something special.”