Mohun Bagan crossed a huge hurdle on their way to regaining the title as they beat Mohammedan Sporting by a solitary first-half goal in an absorbing 15th round match of ONGC I-League football championship at the Salt Lake stadium on Sunday.
The only goal of the match was smartly netted by skillful medio James Singh early in the first half.
With this victory Bagan maintained the top position in the league table with 33 points, two points ahead of nearest rival Sporting Clube de Goa.
The green and maroon also set a new record of winning ten matches on the trot.
Mohammedan Sporting remain at the last but one position with 13 points.
Any match between the three Kolkata giants is always very keen irrespective of their position in the league table. Sunday's tie also proved so as both the teams forced a number of raids.
Bagan defenders, especially Dipak Mondal and their medio Rakesh Mashi played well to foil quite a few Mohammedan moves while their medio Ishfaq Ahmed fed their strike duo of Baichung Bhutia and Jose Barreto with fine passes.
Mohammedan forwards Mike Okoro and Eugene Grey also had their chances but failed to convert them into goals.
Bagan forged ahead in the 14th minute. Barreto, following a combined move, took a shot at the Mohammedan goal which ricocheted and hit a rival defender. Alert Bagan midfielder James Singh seized the
opportunity and shot a timely left-footer which gave Mohammedan goalkeeper Nasim Akhtar no chance.
Stung by the reverse Mohammedans went all out and came near scoring in the 44th minute but a smart header by their medio Gautam Thakur off striker Eugene Grey went over narrowly.
The second half saw Bagan going a little defensive to keep their fort intact during which Mohammedan made some moves without any result.
Mohammedan had another chance to restore parity but in the 71st minute, Jyothi Kumar shot over from top of the box off a pass from Okoro.