Two goal hero James Mahoney praised Team Sloth’s hard work and endeavour after his side won the Ents Cup Final, beating Ajax Treesdown 2-0 at St Helens.
Mahoney netted two extremely well-taken goals to send the cup home to Sloth, who last won the trophy two years ago.
He said: “It was amazing, we’d sort of been written off by everyone, we knew we were massive underdogs going into the game and it would be one of our toughest games because Ajax are a really good strong side.
“But we always had the belief that when it came to playing football on a big pitch and a good surface that we could beat them.”
Mahoney felt the extra tactical preparation helped deliver the win, adding: “We worked a lot on defending long balls and throw-ins and the importance of reacting quickly to any second ball.
“We knew this would be their main threat, and it paid off, they didn’t really have a plan B.
“Our defence was superb and that’s what won us the game, everybody worked hard to shut them down all over the pitch.
“Not many teams keep a clean sheet against Ajax so it was a sweet victory.”
The game took a while to get going and from the early stages it appeared it was going to be a feisty affair with Ajax’s Jack Garner receiving a telling
off from referee Daniel Lewis for a late challenge on Rich Hayes of Sloth.
Mahoney had an early chance to give Sloth the lead, but after being put through on goal chose to lift his shot but Ajax keeper Chris Peters read well.
Sloth had an even better chance soon after when Lewys Thomas connected with Jack Taylor’s knockdown, only for his strike to sail over the bar.
Then a defensive error from Ajax nearly presented Sloth with the opener, as Peters’ mix-up left Sloth striker Thomas with a chance to shoot.
But by the time Thomas gathered his composure, Peters managed to get back to the goal line to prevent an embarrassing opener.
Sloth eventually took the lead shortly before half-time.
Receiving the ball on the right-hand corner of the box after a corner, Mahoney rifled in a drive which proved to be too difficult for Peters to handle, finding its way into the far corner.
Ajax had a golden chance to equalise at the beginning of the second half, but Tom Drinkwater could only slice his effort wide.
And when forward Adam Bruton ran onto a through ball, Sloth goalkeeper Luke James stood tall and did well to deny Ajax a way back into the game.
Mahoney looked to add to his earlier goal with a speculative volley, but it looped over the Ajax goal. It did not take long for Mahoney to add his second of the game though.
Twisting and turning in the box, his low effort eluded the Ajax defence before nestling in the bottom right corner of the goal. It was a goal fitting to grace a cup final.
Sloth substitute Garin Rees had a chance to further extend the lead, but was denied by Peters as the game ended 2-0 to Sloth.
Mahoney hopes the cup win can spur Team Sloth on to league success, but he acknowledged difficulties in assembling a full squad twice a week.
He said: “Hopefully we can carry momentum into the league as we’ve had some good results and performances.
“It’s been difficult though because we struggle to get the numbers for Sunday games with commitments elsewhere, some games we’ve had 10 or 11 players.
“With a full squad we’re strong enough to beat anyone.”
Sloth’s league finish did not live up to their strong cup win, finishing eighth.
Ajax Treesdown finished strongly, just missing out on first place.
Team Sloth 2-0 Ajax Treesdown