Birmingham - Christian Benteke proved a more than able stand-in for record signing Darren Bent by scoring the winner that saw Aston Villa beat Reading 1-0 on Tuesday.
Victory, only their third in the league this season, lifted Villa out of the bottom three while Reading remained in the relegation zone.
It also helped Villa manager Paul Lambert justify his decision to leave Bent out of his squad entirely for the second successive match.
However, it was not until 10 minutes from time that Belgium international Benteke ended a run of a four-games without a goal by heading in a corner from Ashley Westwood.
Villa dominated possession and chances, with Benteke testing Reading's Australian keeper Adam Federici early on with a low shot after good work by recalled midfielder Brett Holman.
Benteke then turned provider, only for Andreas Weimann to shoot wastefully over the bar from just six yards out.
In the second half, Villa continued to press but the game seem destined for a goalless stalemate that would have done neither side much good until Benteke, a 7 million ($11 million) pre-season signing from Genk, settled the match when he rose above the Royals' defence to power in a downward header past Federici.