Nottm Forest 2 (Anderson 11, Earnshaw 41)
Reading 1 (Kebe 90)
Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp earned his team all three points by staving off a spirited Reading comeback and denying us what would have been a worthy draw - at least.
Forest dominated the first half and deservedly led 2-0, but tactical changes from Brian McDermott saw us as by far the better side in the second period.
Camp twice denied debutant Gunnar Thorvaldsson with stunning stops from close-range headers, and then saved sub Brian Howard's penalty after Nicky Shorey had fouled sub Jimmy Kebe and and rightly been sent off.
We also had a cracking chance late on but the referee pulled play back for a foul on Kebe when Shane Long was clean in on goal.
Kebe got a glancing headed touch on Howard's cross in injury time but it was too late sadly - and a let-off for Forest who were on the rack throughout the second period, despite coming into the match on a 17-game unbeaten League run.
We had given ourselves a lot to do with the half-time scoreline, but can be very pleased with the second half display because Forest are the division's form team and we could well have taken at least a point from the match had Camp not saved his team so often.
Reading: Federici; Griffin, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), Mills; Cisse (Howard HT), Karacan, McAnuff, Tabb (Long 78); Church (Kebe 66), Thorvaldsson
Subs: Hamer, Pearce, Gunnarsson, Rasiak
Booked: Mills (foul 90)
Forest: Camp; Gunter, Shorey, Morgan, Wilson; Majewski (Chambers 73), McKenna (c), Cohen, Anderson; Blackstock (Tyson 80), Earnshaw (Perch 70)
Subs: Smith, McGugan, McGoldrick, Adebola
Booked: Anderson (foul 84)
Sent off: Shorey (professional foul 68)
Attendance: 27,635 (707 away fans)
Ref: D Deadman
Brian McDermott made three changes to his starting XI, handing debuts to Gunnar Thorvaldsson & Andy Griffin while also bringing in Jay Tabb. Gylfi Sigurdsson was injured, and Brynjar Gunnarsson was rested after the 34-year-old's 120-minute exertions in midweek. Grzegorz Rasiak also dropped to the bench.
Both teams thought they should have had a penalty for handball in the early stages, Reading first claiming an infringement as a Forest defender lay on the ground, and the home side then looking for a spot kick when Matt Mills seemed to go up with his arm outstretched.
Forest were beginning to get up a head of steam, and with 11 minutes gone they took the lead with a breakaway strike. Ryan Bertrand looked to have been fouled just inside the Forest half, but play was allowed to continue and the home side quickly stabbed the ball forward. Good feet from Robert Earnshaw put Chris Cohen clean through, and despite the hard work of Griffin he was able to square for Paul Anderson to turn home, Adam Federici no chance.
The goal gave an already-confident Forest side a huge lift, and at that stage they played like a team second in the table and 17 games unbeaten.
The next chance came their way, and Earnshaw unleashed a cracking volley from 12 yards, but it was too close to Federici and he saved spectacularly.
Forest were in control of possession, and it was sadly no surprise when the second goal came just before half time. Neat play on the edge of the area put Earnshaw in, and he made no mistake with a curling left-footer.
Inside injury time it could have been 3-0 but Dexter Blackstock shot wide when clean through.
The home side were rightly applauded off at half time, and their impressive form has clearly caught the imagination of this capacity City Ground crowd.
Brian McDermott made a change at half time, bringing on Brian Howard in midfield to add more creative possibilities in the centre of the park.
Reading found a string foothold in the game, and a neat free kick from Bertrand put Howard down the left. He delivered an excellent cross, and Thorvaldsson looked sure to score but Lee Camp stuck out a foot to deny him a debut goal.
Incredibly, just seconds later Camp again denied Thorvaldsson with a stunning save, somehow keeping out his header with a brilliant palmed stop down low.
Reading had turned the flow of the game on its head, and had a glorious chance to get back in the game midway through the period.
Jem Karacan slipped sub Jimmy Kebe through on goal, and he was clearly fouled by Nicky Shorey inside the box, a red card and penalty the correct outcome.
Howard stepped up to take, but it was too close to Camp and at a good height for him to palm away. The 'keeper had been named the Championship player of the month before the game, and it was clear to see why on this display. With the Thorvaldsson headers and the penalty, three times he had denied us, although on each occasion we could perhaps have taken him out of the equation if we had aimed for the corner.
It took us a few minutes to regain our composure, but soon enough we were back in their final third and pressing for a goal; Shane Long also having come off the bench.
With five minutes left Kebe again did very well down the right, and with Long through on goal the referee frustratingly stopped play for our free kick; a very harsh blow.
Kebe got a glancing touch on Howard's cross in injury time but it was too late sadly - and a let-off for Forest who were on the rack.
It was a game of two halves and we were very unfortunate not to have taken something from the match. Our supporters applauded the players off after their second half display, and it was just a shame that the performance was not rewarded in points.