A 10-man East Bengal edged past resilient Pailian Arrows 2-1 in a 19th round of the I-League encounter at Kalyani Municipal Stadium, here on Saturday.
With this win, East Bengal reached the top of the standings with 39 points from 19 matches while Arrows stayed back on 19 points from 18 matches.
The joy of getting to the top of the table might be shortlived for East Bengal as Churchill Brothers are only a point behind them but having played two matches less.
The match was decided in the first half where the red-and-gold brigade found their goals from Nigerian Edeh Chidi, who scored a penalty, and Lalrindika Ralte and overtook Arrows, who had got the lead through Alwyn George.
The only notable incident in the second half was the ejection of substitute forward Manandeep Singh in the 75th minute, after which East Bengal endured the remaining time with 10 men and conserved the lead to ensure the full quota of points.
It was to the credit of the young Arrows that they added the incendiary to an absorbing action with a goal within couple of minutes from the start. Vishal Kumar showed the utility of a good throw as he hurled the ball deep inside the East Bengal box.
Milan Singh, the Arrows midfielder, headed the ball along to reach Alwyn George on top of the six-yard box. The Arrows striker made no mistake with his shot that wrapped the East Bengal net.
Stunned by the early setback, East Bengal sought to buck up their offensive and attacked with more purpose in search of the equaliser. East Bengal did not have to wait for long to see the scores levelled as the team earned a penalty in the 5th minute.
The Arrows' goalkeeper Soram Porei made the grave mistake of using his hand to stop the East Bengal striker Edeh Chidi, who had got the ball clear of the former and was poised to score. Referee Laiq Khan had no second thought in pointing to the spot, from where Chidi scored to make it 1-1 in the 7th minute.