Aston Villa boosted their survival hopes after goals from Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor helped them to a crucial victory over fellow Premier League strugglers Reading.
The claret and blues had fallen behind at the Madejski Stadium when Nathan Baker put through his own net in comedic fashion in the 32nd minute, although they hit back immediately when Benteke bagged his 16th goal of the season.
And Agbonlahor bagged the winner just before the break with an emphatic finish from close range which helped Villa climb out of the drop zone with nine games of the campaign left.
Villa boss Paul Lambert made three changes from the side which lost 1-0 to Manchester City on Monday night with Yacouba Sylla handed a full debut in place of the suspended Fabian Delph.
Captain Ron Vlaar was restored to the starting line-up after he recovered from a calf injury while Barry Bannan returned in midfield with Joe Bennett and Charles N’Zogbia both dropped to the bench.
Reading put the Villa goal under pressure in the early stages and Adam Le Fondre brought a smart diving save out of Brad Guzan when he got his head on the end of Hal Robson-Kanu’s deep cross.
Villa started to find their passing rhythm in an open game and Baker whipped in a teasing cross for Benteke in the 12th minute which he headed against the crossbar from six yards.
A shooting opportunity opened up for the lively Robson-Kanu nine minutes later and he skimmed a low shot past Guzan’s post from distance although the Villa keeper never looked concerned.
Agbonlahor broke clear down the left flank on the counter attack moments later but his cross into the penalty area had too much power on it, much to the chagrin of Andreas Weimann and Benteke.
Belgium striker Benteke continued to cause problems in the final third with his strength and created an opening when he bulldozed his way through the Reading defence only for Weimann to strike the ball wide from a good position.
Reading broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute through a comedy own goal from Baker who knocked the ball into the Villa net off his standing foot as tried clear at the back post after Jobi McAnuff’s cross had been flicked by the heel of Hope Akpan.
However, Villa hit back a minute later when Ashley Westwood’s clever ball found Weimann on the right edge of the 18-yard box and he superbly cut the ball back for Benteke who saw his shot – via a Stephen Kelly deflection – find the net.
And the claret and blues took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Weimann’s cross into the box was cleared straight up in air the by Kelly and Lowton headed the ball back to Bannan who stabbed it against the post.
Former Villa keeper Stuart Taylor then fumbled the ball away but straight into the path of Agbonlahor who wrapped his laces around it and smashed it into the roof of the net.
Noel Hunt had the ball in the net for Reading 10 minutes after the restart when he got on the end of McAnuff’s low cross only for the assistant referee to flag for offside.
Reading continued to press for an equaliser and Robson-Kanu brought down a high ball from Kelly in the 65th minute only to direct his finish wide of the post.
Guzan showed tremendous anticipation to deny Reading moments later when he was in the right place to gather substitute Nick Blackman’s header at the back post.
Villa were content to soak up the pressure and hit Reading on the counter attack and Agbonlahor sent a curling shot wide in the 77th minute while N’Zogbia lifted the ball over the bar from just inside the area shortly afterwards
Robson-Kanu had the best of Reading's late chances when he whistled a low shot past the post but the Villa defence stood firm and held on to claim a crucial three points.
By Timothy Abraham