Steve Cotterill's fine start as Nottingham Forest boss continued as Marcus Tudgay's second-half goal gave them victory over Reading.
A goalless draw looked likely until the striker fired in on the turn in the 67th minute at the City Ground.
Creating clear chances was a struggle for both sides, though Tudgay saw a first half effort ruled out for offside before Reading unluckily hit the bar.
Substitute Noel Hunt nearly snatched a late point, but was denied by Lee Camp.
The loss of key players and changes in personnel left both sides a shadow of those that reached the play-offs last season, when Reading were beaten finalists at Wembley.
Forest began the season poorly under Steve McClaren but his replacement Cotterill has now overseen three wins in his opening four games since joining from Championship rivals Portsmouth to move his new club away from the relegation zone.
Forest had the ball in the net after 11 minutes when Radoslaw Majewski's cross ricocheted into the path of Tudgay.
The former Derby and Sheffield Wednesday striker finished superbly into the roof of the net from eight yards out but the referee's assistant had his flag raised for offside.
Reading's nearest effort came four minutes later when Jobi McAnuff's cross from the left curled over Camp and struck the bar.
The visitors threatened again in the 20th minute when Mikele Leigertwood's header back across goal found Adam Le Fondre at the back post, but the summer signing from Rotherham blazed over from a very acute angle.
McGugan created another opportunity five minutes before the break when his driven, low free-kick saw Tudgay benefit from another ricochet, but this time the 28-year-old's effort went over.
The breakthrough arrived just before the midway point of the second half when Tudgay brought down a right-hand cross before turning and sending a left foot shot in off the far upright.
Hunt came close to rescuing a draw for Reading but his header from eight yards produced a brilliant one-handed save from Camp.