Kolkata: East Bengal`s new recruit Alan Gow scored one goal while setting up another to help the seven time champions remain on course for a hat-trick of titles with a 2-1 win over Pune FC in their group C fixture of the 33rd Federation Cup on Monday.
The Scottish, who was named in the starting line-up, gave East Bengal the lead in the 42nd minute, his first goal for the red-and-gold brigade.
But Pune FC hit back with Jeje Lalpekhlua finding the equaliser with a header in the 55th minute, spreading panic in two-time defending champions camp.
East Bengal lacked their usual attacking sting but earned full points when Gow`s timely and clinical cross gifted Robin Singh an easy winner eight minutes before the full time on a rain-soaked Yuba Bharati Kriragan artificial turf.
The hard-fought win helped East Bengal (four points) take the lead position in group C, going past Pune FC (three).
Pune FC were dealt a huge blow in the 23rd minute when their captain and ace goalkeeper Subrata Paul had to be stretchered out of the field after a collision with Gow.
Paul, who was instrumental in their upset 2-1 win over Dempo SC in their last match, had to be replaced by a rookie Amrinder Singh in the 30th minute.
Pune FC had a defensive approach, while East Bengal went all out but the local heavyweights lacked the finishing.
At a time his side were struggling to take the lead, a cool-headed Gow, who started in the line-up in place of Tolgay Ozbey, showed fine control with a sharp left-footer from the edge of the box to open his account for East Bengal.
But PFC bounced back after the changeover when Jeje beat East Bengal goalkeeper Sandip Nandy with a brilliant header.
In desperate measures, East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan inducted Ozbey in place of defender Uga Okpara while Sanju Pradhan replaced Reishengmei Vashum in two quick changes but Pune FC held on with a bolstered defence.
Ozbey was a shadow of his former self as the Australian forward struggled to find his rhythm going, even as PFC at times looked threatening in counter attacks.
With East Bengal looking desperate for the elusive winner, Gow lived up to the coach`s expectation as he brilliantly looped a centre which beat PFC custodian on flight.
Robin grabbed the easy chance as he converted in front of an open net to bring relief for East Bengal supporters.