Goals from David Johnson and Marlon Harewood secured a 2-0 win for Nottingham Forest against promotion rivals Reading at the City Ground.
Johnson, the First Division`s top scorer, lashed the ball past Royals goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann after just four minutes to put Forest in command.
An injury to joint top-scorer Nicky Forster midway through the first half added to Reading`s woes, and the home side sealed victory with just over 20 minutes remaining as Harewood kept his cool to score.
Forward Jack Lester was sent off for his second bookable offence with six minutes left but Forest held on to stay third in the table.
Forest, who went into the game on the back of successive away defeats at Burnley and Bradford, made one change to their starting line-up.
Defender Des Walker was a surprise absentee, with Jon Olav Hjelde coming in.
The Royals, whose seven-game unbeaten run was brought to an end by Sheffield United last week, named an unchanged side - with new signing Steve Brown failing to make the bench.
Reading`s defence was breached inside the first five minutes as Johnson took his tally to 21 for the season.
He latched onto a through ball from Gareth Williams, cut inside the full-back and slammed the ball into the bottom corner.
The visitors almost hauled themselves level in the 13th minute, but five-goal midfielder Andy Hughes sent a weak header over the crossbar from six yards.
Andrew Reid drilled a shot wide for Forest after 21 minutes - and shortly afterwards Reading`s afternoon took another turn for the worst as striker Forster limped out of the action to be replaced by Nathan Tyson.
John Salako forced Darren Ward into his first save of the afternoon after 40 minutes from a curling free-kick.
But it was the home side who should have doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Harewood connected sweetly with Riccardo Scimeca`s cross - but his fierce drive was parried by Hahnemann.
There was early drama at the start of the second half. Lester saw a close-range shot blocked by defender Adrian Williams, and from the breakaway, Tyson crossed for Tony Rougier who headed over.
Lester should have done better with a header at the far post in the 51st minute, while James Harper sent a volley fizzing past a post for the visitors moments later as the action continued to swing from end to end.
Johnson, who had failed to trouble Hahnemann since his early strike, had the goalkeeper scrambling to keep out a powerful drive from the edge of the box on the hour, while Williams also came close.
But Forest finally got the second goal their pressure deserved with 67 minutes on the clock.
Harewood beat his marker, went round the goalkeeper with ease and slotted the ball into the empty net for his seventh goal of the season.
The home side continued to pour forward in the closing stages, with Johnson twice, and Harewood all trying their luck from distance.
Lester`s dismissal for a late lunge on Sammy Igoe ended their aspirations of a third goal, with Reading substitute Jamie Cureton coming close to netting a consolation at the death.