Lewis Grabban’s brace earned Nottingham Forest a much-needed 2-0 victory at Hull City.
Sabri Lamouchi’s side had not won in five previous Sky Bet Championship games, but they made an encouraging return to form at the KCOM Stadium as their tired-looking opponents rarely threatened.
Forest’s game management was particularly impressive – especially once Grabban scored an 11th-minute penalty.
Despite having created few chances following that early breakthrough, Hull’s most potent attacking threats, wingers Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen, were superbly marshalled by a resilient back-four.
Grabban then confirmed an away win when he smashed home from a tricky angle after 82 minutes.
This result was even more laudable as Hull had won their previous three home games. City also began purposefully in a bid to improve upon that record.
Indeed, the hosts should have gained a fifth-minute lead when Bowen’s neat free-kick from the right caused unease within the Forest back-line.
Midfielder Jackson Irvine was quickest to react from the resulting skirmish, but he somehow fired over the crossbar from four yards with a stretching lunge.
If Irvine was frustrated by that miss, the Australia international’s mind would have been even cloudier when he contributed to Forest’s opening goal when he brought down Samba Sow.
Referee Geoff Eltringham pointed towards the penalty spot, and Grabban netted.
In deteriorating conditions, Forest continued to catch the eye after the restart.
And they might have added a second after 48 minutes as goalkeeper George Long did well to stop Tiago Silva’s volley from the edge of the area with his feet.
Hull had their moments thereafter, but Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba was never once tested as a stop-start game meandered towards the final half-hour.
One glancing Bowen header after 80 minutes aside, Hull’s efforts were too predictable and came to naught. Grabban added a second on the counter-attack with a fierce hit from the right of the penalty area following more good work from Silva.
Hull head coach Grant McCann accepted his side had been outplayed.
He said: “We were disappointing. There are no excuses – we probably got what we deserved.
“The game was quite stop-start, and that affected how we wanted to play. We kept giving the ball away too easily and we just didn’t get going.
“We tried. We huffed and puffed a little bit, but it didn’t seem to happen. Everyone was off.
“I don’t think there was much in the game. If anything, Forest were better at keeping the ball and that was probably the difference – we just couldn’t find that last pass.
“We’ve got to find the answers because the games come quick at this time of year. We’ve got to go there (QPR on Sunday) and get a response.
“I think this league is very difficult. Over the last 12 games we’ve won six of them, which isn’t too bad. We need to make sure we respond from this.
“The group have done really well – they are working very hard – I’m really, really pleased with them.
“We’ve lost the game, lost three points, but we’ve got plenty of time to make it up.”