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 November 30, 2002 | 1800 IST

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0-3 down JCT rally to hold Bagan

JCT Mills, Phagwara, staged a brilliant second-half rally to neutralise a George Ekeh hat-trick and hold defending champions Mohun Bagan 3-3 in a thrilling seventh National Football League match, at the Salt Lake stadium, in Kolkata, on Saturday.

Champions in the inaugural year, in 1996-97, the visitors, who looked insipid in the opening half during which they fell behind 0-2, took advantage of a porous Bagan defence and raised their game by several notches in the latter session to bang in three goals and snatch their first point in the tournament.

Bagan's Nigerian ace George Ekeh had earlier fired the first hat-trick of the current edition's high profile league, when he found the target in the fourth and 32nd minutes of the first-half and followed those goals up with another strike 15 minutes after the breather.

For the millmen, Harvinder Singh scored a brace while Ghanaian, Yeboah netted once.

The local side, which looked formidable in the first-half, weaving patterns through fine passing bouts between Jose Barreto, Ekeh and Baichung Bhutia, faded out in the latter stages of the second-half when JCT held sway over the proceedings.

Bagan, who now have five points from three outings, also paid paid the price for some sloppy defending.

Complete Coverage: 7th National Football League 2002-03