Fine win for Glasgow Island to take the Mod Challenge Cup

The annual Mod challenge between Paisley FC and Hebridean expats, Glasgow Island, took place on Saturday 12th September.

The teams took to the field at Seedhill Football Centre in Paisley for the match which was fiercely fought.

In a tense encounter, the trophy returned to The Snaffle Bit for the first time since GI’s famous defeat of Stenhousemuir at the Falkirk Mod in 2008.

The islanders set up a cautious 4-5-1 formation in an attempt to get the measure of their more illustrious opposition and it proved to be a system that frustrated the Paisley lads who struggled to break down the Glasgow island rearguard, superbly marshalled on the day by former Lochs stalwart, Andrew Dunn. Dunn was a very good shout for man of the match, but that accolade went to Caley Mackay who delivered a masterclass in the often frustrating job of lone striker.

It was a towering display by the forward from Point, as his strength and intelligent hold up play terrorised the Paisley back line and drew numerous free kicks.

Indeed, Mackay struck the only goal of a fiercely contested first half after ten minutes as a very physical battle ensued all over the park.

Caley, opting to go at the defence himself instead of laying off, stepped past the attentions of his marker and dipped a great effort over the keeper and inside the far post.

The remainder of the half continued with Paisley frustrated as they struggled to carve out any real opportunities to threaten Island keeper Willeam MacArthur, whilst at the other end Rob Shirkie had an excellent opportunity to increase the lead but side footed his shot straight at the keeper, and Derek Wark had a goal disallowed when the linesman called his effort offside in a very tight decision.

Glasgow Island took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and had a number of chances to grab the second, but were guilty of some wasteful finishing.

They were nearly made to pay for this as the game entered the last third when a Paisley free kick resulted in a free header sailing over the bar when it looked like the equaliser was on the cards.

This was the impetus GI needed as it became evident how slender their lead was and they went on the attack again in search of the killer second.

It came from the unlikely avenue of left back as former Stornoway United prodigy, Mark McGee, weaved his way into the box and hit the byeline.

The cutback for the unmarked John Macisaac on the penalty spot was the obvious option but as the Paisley defence moved to anticipate it, McGee wriggled past the attentions of the Paisley right back, moved towards the opposing goal and fooled the keeper with a cheeky effort at his near post as Mark’s team mates screamed at him to lay it off.

It was a great bit of improvisation and capped a fine second half display from McGee.

As the final whistle went, delighted Glasgow Island manager, Murdo John Graham hailed his team’s heroics: “I thought we were excellent today - really disciplined and showed a lot of desire.

“You could tell Paisley are a good side but we didn’t allow them to play to their strengths and we played to ours - I couldn’t ask for much more than that.”

The trophy was presented by Renfrewshire Council Depute Provost, John Caldwell, and Mackay was given what was, perhaps surprisingly, his first ever official man of the match award (although he has been known to give himself quite a few!).

The teams were treated to a reception in Paisley town hall, along with the shinty players from their equivalent competition, followed by a ceilidh Paisley style as Fergie Macdonald got the Mod off to a flying start.