Defending champions East Bengal scored a 1-0 victory over JCT Mills, Phagwara, to strengthen their position atop the table in the ninth National Football League in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
The all-important goal in the 12th round match was scored in the 43rd minute by striker Earnest Jeremiah off a pass from Malsawmtluanga.
East Bengal have now won eight matches out of 12 played so far. Their only defeat came against Dempo.
JCT tried their best to draw level, especially in the last ten minutes when they held sway over their fancied rivals.
Though Sukhwinder, Daljit and Jaswinder came up with some great attempts, the equaliser evaded them.
East Bengal played without their key striker Baichung Bhutia, who was out of action following two yellow card bookings.
JCT, who finished fifth last year, have only 15 points from 12 matches, with four wins, three draws and five defeats.
East Bengal's Alvito D'Chuna was declared man of the match.
JCT's next home match is against Mahindra United, Mumbai, on April 3.