Garath McCleary and Chris Gunter on target as Reading sink Nottingham Forest
Reading illustrated their top-six Sky Bet Championship credentials with a comfortable 2-0 victory over struggling Nottingham Forest at the Madejski Stadium.
A strike in each half from former Forest players was enough for Reading, with Garath McCleary scoring an early opener and defender Chris Gunter adding a rare goal in the second period.
In a scrappy contest, Forest had their chances but were frequently denied by in-form home goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.
Reading were knocked out of the EFL on Tuesday when they lost 2-0 in the fourth round at Arsenal.
They had won only one of their previous five league games, a 1-0 victory at Rotherham last Saturday.
Forest had only one win in nine league fixtures and had failed to keep a clean sheet all term - in 17 matches in all competitions.
Head coach Philippe Montanier had to field a depleted side, with nine players absent due to injury or suspension.
Both sides appeared nervous in the early stages, a string of passes going astray in the centre of the pitch.
Reading gradually settled the better, with Forest offering little threat up front, and went ahead in the 10th minute.
John Swift drilled in fierce effort from 25 yards that Forest goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic could only fumble into the path of McCleary.
McCleary still had much to do but kept his head and fired a well-controlled effort back past Stojkovic.
Forest responded brightly, with a powerful free-kick from Henri Lansbury taking a deflection over the home crossbar.
Striker Ben Osborn had a shot blocked by the packed Reading defence and then forced a smart save from Al Habsi at his near post.
Pajtim Kasami then wasted a good opening when his tame header was comfortably saved by Al Habsi.
Reading quickly regained control, with Lansbury nodding off the line from a Yann Kermorgant volley and Stojkovic superbly stopping a 25-yard piledriver from Danny Williams.
Forest upped the tempo approaching the break, with Al Habsi making a fine double save to keep out Kasami and Apostolos Vellios.
The Oman international also did well to save another Kasami attempt and a thunderous 20-yarder from Eric Lichaj.
Forest continued in the same vein after the interval, with Kasami again wasteful after scampering clear of the home defence.
Lichaj squandered another opportunity, driving wildly wide, and it was to prove costly, when Reading extended their lead in the 62nd minute.
McCleary, not for the first time, crossed from the right and right-back Gunter lashed in only his third goal - and first in the league - in more than four years at the club.
Forest never gave up and referee Andy Davies awarded them a penalty when Liam Moore fouled Lansbury in the area.
But Davies changed his mind, on the advice of an assistant, and instead awarded a free-kick just outside the box, which Kasami blasted into the defensive wall and over.