Pavel Pogrebnyak struck five minutes in to give Reading a priceless 1-0 victory over an insipid West Ham side at the Madejski.
The Russian striker capitalised on a hideous back-pass gaffe by James Collins to tuck away what would prove the only goal of the game.
The visiting side frustrated their supporters every bit as much in attack as they did in defence for the goal as they wasted a host of chances, including a three-yard sitter for substitute Ricardo Vaz Te in the second half.
The result puts Brian McDermott's men clear of bottom spot, though QPR have a game in hand as they host Liverpool on Sunday.
The Royals came into the match in desperate need of Premier League wins, but at the same time boasting a very good record against the Irons with five wins from their last seven meetings.
Their good form against the East Londoners made an early re-appearance at the Madjeski, as after just five minutes Collins attempted a nightmarish back pass to Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Coming up far too short, it allowed Pogrebnyak to bounce in and calmly slot home the opener in the one-on-one against the Finnish keeper.
Sam Allardyce’s men pushed for a way back into the contest, enjoying 62% of the first half possession in the process, but a series of final ball attempts by the likes of Matt Jarvis, Matt Taylor and Gary O’Neil were all either off the mark or dealt with by the home defence.
Pogrebnyak caused West Ham all sorts of problems with excellent hold-up play, turning rash clearances into serious chances for the hosts to double their lead, but the closest moment of the first half came up the other end.
Kevin Nolan kept a set piece alive for the Hammers, and his cross was headed towards goal by Winston Reid, forcing a good tip over the bar from Adam Federici.
Jack Collison came off the bench to test Federici on 64 minutes, moments before Jem Karacan rattled the crossbar at the other end from just outside the penalty area.
Substitutes combined with nine minutes remaining as Vaz Te crossed for Modibo Maiga, who almost certainly would have scored if not for Chris Gunter’s excellent last-gasp intervention.
That said, one cannot assume a player will score if given a chance three yards out, as the Portuguese forward proved on the other end of an attack three minutes later.
Unmarked as Jarvis floated a ball in from the left, Vaz Te somehow sent his glorious chance to grab his side a point wide of the nearby upright.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Pavel Pogrebnyak, Reading - A crucial goal for the Royals capped a tidy performance as target man, turning rash clearances into serious counter-attack opportunities.
READING: Federici 7, Gunter 7, Harte 6, Mariappa 6, Pearce 7, Karacan 6, Leigertwood 5, McAnuff 6, Kebe 7; Guthrie 5, Pogrebnyak 8. Subs: Robson-Kanu 6, Hunt 6.
WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen 6, Tomkins 5, Reid 6, Collins 4, O'Brien 5, Noble 6, O'Neil 6, Nolan 5, Taylor 5, Jarvis 6, Cole 5..Subs: Collison 6, Vaz Te 5, Maiga 5.
- Sports & Recreation
- Pavel Pogrebnyak
- Ricardo Vaz Te
- James Collins