Nottingham Forest's strong run of results at home was brought to an end following a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City at The City Ground.
Neil Warnock's side found the net twice in the first half through Junior Hoilett and Danny Ward and then produced an effective away performance to see the game out and take the points.
A tough test awaited The Reds up against an in-form Cardiff side who had only lost one of their last five league games.
The first real sight of goal in the opening 15 minutes went to the away side with Hoilett hitting the crossbar early on, although the linesman had earlier flagged for offside.
After good build-up work down the left-hand side, Forest had their first chance of the afternoon, but a tame header from Daryl Murphy was comfortable for Bluebirds keeper Neil Etheridge.
Then, the sucker-punch. A free-kick 30 yards out was floated in to the box, Forest couldn’t clear the first ball and from the knockdown, Hoilett was on hand to head the away side a goal to the good.
Three minutes later, Forest had a superb chance to equalise. Good work from Tyler Walker down the right, managing to cut inside and have a shot which was deflected to the back post, where Barrie McKay picked up the ball, unselfishly rolled it to Murphy but the striker could only blaze his shot over from 12 yards.
Eight minutes before the break and the away side struck again. Ward picked the ball up 30 yards from goal in a central position, shifted the ball on to his left foot and hit a wonder goal into the top right-hand corner, giving Jordan Smith absolutely no chance in the Forest net.
Forest replied with a half-chance of their own as Ben Osborn picked the ball up and drove towards the Cardiff goal but he could only drag his left-footed shot wide.
The fourth official indicated an additional two minutes to end of the first half, and it was Cardiff who had time to create another chance on goal. Ward headed back to an unmarked Craig Bryson, but his shot was well blocked by Michael Mancienne.
The heavens opened on an already-gloomy City Ground and the second half started in the same way the first half ended, with the away side enjoying plenty of possession and Forest lacking that creative spark in midfield.
As much as Cardiff were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, it was the home side who worked the best opening of the second half. A ball through from McKay sent Walker through on goal, he checked back on to his left foot but his side-footed finish didn’t test Etheridge.
Cardiff almost punished Forest going straight down the other end, winning two corners with both resulting in chances to score. The first corner saw Sean Morrison put a header wide of Smith’s goal before the Forest goalkeeper was left fumbling the ball but luckily managed to smother it at the second time of asking.
With 20 minutes to go, Forest carved open the Cardiff backline through substitute Mustapha Carayol, who cut in from the left, beating two defenders but his shot was blocked by a flying Morrison as it headed towards goal.
Carayol was looking a threat on the left, picking the ball up and driving at the Cardiff defence, but his shot was blocked on the edge of the box and the follow-up from Osborn was also blocked. Forest were starting to create chances and it was Carayol’s pace and trickery that was opening the game up.
Mark Warburton made two changes to try and salvage something from the game as Matty Cash and Ben Brereton were introduced and it was Forest who continued to threaten, forcing four corners in as many minutes. The fourth corner almost resulted in a goal, but the chance went astray and Cardiff cleared.
Forest had six minutes of added time to find a consolation goal. Unfortunately for the home faithful, the goal never arrived. In a game that lacked real quality, it was the visitors who took their chances and came away with all three points and defeat for Forest leaves them ninth, still a point ahead of Ipswich Town.
Forest: Smith; Lichaj, Mancienne (c), Worrall, Traore; Vaughan, Dowell; Walker, Osborn (Cash 78'), McKay (Carayol 68'); Murphy (Brereton 78')
Subs not used: Henderson, Mills, Clough, Bouchalakis
Booking: Traore 14'
Cardiff: Etheridge; Ecuele-Manga, Bamba (Peltier 78'), Morrison (c), Bennett; Damour, Ralls, Bryson (Halford 82'), Hoilett; Paterson; Ward (Gounongbe 84')
Subs not used: Murphy, Tomlin, Feeney, Feltscher
Goals: Hoilett 24', Ward 38'
Bookings: Paterson 65', Gounongbe 86'
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: 25,210 (1,305 away)