Rob Hulse's sixth goal of the season edged Derby clear of the bottom three as the Rams beat Coca-Cola Championship relegation rivals Reading 2-1 in a tempestuous affair at Pride Park.
Gylfi Sigurdsson put the Royals in front after 56 minutes but their lead was short-lived as Paul Green restored parity on the hour mark.
Hulse completed the turnaround for Derby in the 73rd minute before Reading striker Shane Long was sent off with 10 minutes remaining for a late challenge on Fredrik Stoor.
Jay McEveley, Stephen Pearson and Paul Dickov came back into the Derby side as Dean Moxey and Jake Livermore dropped down to the bench.
The other change from the defeat at Swansea was Bryan Hughes who has returned to Hull following the end of his loan spell. New loan signing DJ Campbell was on the bench.
Reading boss Brendan Rodgers, who this week celebrated a year in management, named the same side that recorded the Royals' first home win since January against Blackpool last weekend.
A fiery game was largely devoid of goalmouth action in the first half as both sides were restricted to long range efforts.
Sigurdsson and Jobi McAnuff fired wide in quick succession early on before Hulse headed straight at Adam Federici after eight minutes.
McEveley then shot wide midway through the first half and Ryan Bertrand did likewise at the opposite end just before the half-hour mark.
The game sprung to life soon after the break when Sigurdsson put Reading in front.
Jay Tabb was the instigator, setting up the Icelander who beat Stephen Bywater with a low shot that went in off the post.
But the lead lasted just four minutes. Gary Teale did well down the left and squeezed in a cross to leave Green with the simple task of just steering the ball home from six yards out.
Derby were in the ascendancy and Green came close to a second goal soon afterwards before Hulse worked Federici with an angled drive midway through the second half.
Reading substitute Grzegorz Rasiak, who scored 19 goals during his only season at Derby in 2004/05, went close against his former club with a header.
But it was a current Derby striker Hulse who won the points for the Rams.
A clever backheel by Teale released McEveley who crossed for Hulse to net from close range.
Long saw red in the 80th minute but Reading still almost snatched a draw when McAnuff was denied by Bywater in the final minute.
The Derby keeper then tipped Alex Pearce's 25-yard drive round a post deep into injury time.
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