Nottingham Forest's chances of survival were given a massive boost after they beat play-off chasing Reading in a 3-2 win at The City Ground on Saturday afternoon in The Championship.
It was a massive game for both sides with it having a huge impact at both ends of the table. However, Forest managed to survive a Reading comeback to seal all three points.
Forest make another quick start
Mark Warburton's side have a good record against the top sides at the City Ground this season and beat Huddersfield 2-0 just a matter of weeks ago. The big team news prior to kick-off was the decision to put Britt Assombalonga back into the starting line-up.
Mustapha Carayol was given a rare start as he begins to regain his full fitness after not playing regularly for a significant amount of time. He had a superb start to the game and was causing Chris Gunter all sorts of problems. The first big chance came as Ben Brereton failed to head the ball into a gaping net after being picked out by Carayol.
Forest continued to pile pressure onto the Reading defence with David Vaughan, Chris Cohen and Brereton all having chances. Forest finally got the lead they deserved after half an hour as Brereton picked out Assombalonga who prodded home past Ali Al-Habsi to make it 1-0.
Jaap Stam must have been frustrated with the very slow start his side made to the game with work still needing to be done to ensure a play-off spot. Lewis Grabban had their first opportunity and forced Jordan Smith into a smart save as he tipped Grabban's shot over the bar.
The home side did have one more opportunity before half-time as Ben Osborn rounded Al-Habsi but could not quite convert from a very tight angle.
A crazy second-half
Forest made another really fast start to the second-half with Carayol again causing problems on the left-hand side. However, it was Osborn who turned provider this time as his right-footed cross was headed home by Assombalonga for his and Forest's second to make it 2-0.
This led to Stam making two substitutions as George Evans and Roy Beerens came on in replace of Danny Williams and Adrian Popa. However, his side made their task a lot harder in the 54th minute as they let Carayol dance into the area before drilling home a low shot to make it 3-0.
However, as Forest sat back and tried to defend their three goal lead, Reading started to create more opportunities. Yann Kermorgrant pulled one back for the Royals in the 58th minute as his header went in off the bar to make it 3-1.
The away side continued to peg Forest back into their own area and reduced the deficit to just one in the 74th minute as Kermorgrant again was given time and space in the area to find the bottom corner and make it 3-2.
Despite a nervy last ten minutes or so, Forest managed to hold out relatively comfortably and secure an enormous three points and dealt Reading's promotion hopes a blow.
Work still to be done
The message from Warburton post-match was that there is still plenty of work to do to ensure Forest's survival in The Championship. They travel to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers next weekend in which they can seal their fate.
As for Reading, they are still six points within the play-offs after Leeds United lost 2-1 to Burton Albion. However, Stam will want his team to rebuild some momentum as they look to secure a place in the Premier League.