Manish Mathani rang in a merry Christmas for Mohun Bagan, his matchwinner taking them to the first victory in I-League 4 here on Thursday. Against JCT at the Guru Nanak Stadium, Mathani struck from the top of the 18-yard box in this fifth-round match.
The win took Mohun Bagan's tally to five points. JCT are now last in the standings with just one point.
JCT started with a lot of purpose but barring an 11th minute shot from the right by Amandeep Singh Bains, which Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul thwarted, failed to pressure the visitors.
The only goal came in the 67th minute when Mathani fired home from the top of the 18-yard box following a pass from striker Subair Muritala Ali.
Mathani was part of India's Asian Games squad under Sukhwinder Singh, now JCT technical director.
"This was a very, very important win for the boys," said Subhas Bhowmick, Mohun Bagan's technical director. Bhowmick said he was especially happy with the show in the second half.
"I don't usually say this but if the boys play the kind of football they did in the second half, this job becomes satisfying," Bhowmick said. The Mohun Bagan official said changing Nagimuddin Mullick and bringing on skipper Ishfaq Ahmed as right back gave the defence solidity.
"This team needs a lot of work but the good thing is that they have improved in their last two matches," Bhowmick said. Mohun Bagan play Mumbai FC next, at home on December 30.
Scare for Churchill
In Margao, Okolie Odafa's penalty in the second minute of added time in the second half helped Churchill Brothers escape to a 1-1 draw against Viva Kerala.