Pacific FC played out a tense 1-1 draw against Canadian Premier League rivals Forge FC at Starlight Stadium on Sunday (Sept. 18) evening.
The game got off to an unpopular start as Forge caught the home team napping, with former PFC man Alessandro Hojarbpour scoring a header after three minutes and being treated to a chorus of boos.
Goalkeeper Callum Irving said after the game that lackadaisical defending that led to the goal was “unacceptable.”
“With set pieces, what happens is you try and remedy problems and more problems come up. I think at the end of the day, it’s not about tactics about solving back post, front post, middle blocking, whatever, it’s about a mentality of ‘I’m not going to let them score’ and I think you know, at times, we don’t do that well enough.”
The Tridents awoke quickly after the goal, putting in a number of meaty challenges as they sought a way back into the game. And it came quickly with neat interplay between Marco Bustos and Kunle Dada-Luke giving the right-back space to fire across a cross. The goalkeeper fumbled and in the ensuing scramble the ball bobbled into the net with new man Jordan Brown celebrating what would have been his first goal of the season, but the goal was given as an own goal, making the score 1-1.
The goal was a rare bright spot for PFC, who did struggle to create clear-cut chances in the remainder. Head coach James Merriman said after the game that he was frustrated by some of the loose passing in the build-up.
“The morale is not down. The spirit’s not down. It’s frustration. We’re right there last match, this match. It’s right there. We need to take it, we need to take advantage of the opportunities that we get.”
Irving’s heroics stepped up to another level 15 minutes later as he pulled out a miraculous save from close range against his former teammate Terran Campbell, who had the goal at his mercy but couldn’t convert from close range. Irving kept the game at 1-1 and that’s how it stayed until half-time.
The second half was a quieter affair. Things got a little chippy – there were five yellow cards in total plus one to a PFC staff member on the bench – perhaps to be expected considering the teams’ rivalry in the past few seasons. Forge’s Kwasi Poku had the best chance of the half when he broke in behind and charged towards Irving’s goal, but his shot bounced off the crossbar, with PFC scrambling to clear, keeping the score 1-1 on 69 minutes.
Ultimately the game would end 1-1.
With the draw, PFC is tied on 37 points with Valour FC, who reamin in fourth place due to their better goal difference. PFC has a game in hand, but with just four league games left to secure their playoff spot, it’ll be a tense atmosphere in the Tridents’ dressing room.
PFC’s next game is against Halifax Wanderers on the east coast on Saturday (Sept. 24).