Keane Lewis-Potter’s superb goal proved to no avail as Hull City suffered a first defeat in seven matches at the hands of in-form Nottingham Forest.
The 20-year-old’s exceptional touch and finish put the Tigers ahead just before half-time but Lewis Grabban’s disputed penalty and Brennan Johnson’s calm finish gave Forest victory.
Grant McCann named an unchanged matchday squad as the Tigers bid to make it seven Championship games unbeaten, against a Forest side undefeated in their previous eight.
The reinvigorated Reds had lost only once since the arrival of ex-Swansea City boss Steve Cooper in September and engineered the first opportunity inside eight minutes.
Jack Colback crossed from the left towards Grabban in the middle but the experienced forward mishit his volley into the ground, with the ball bouncing to safety.
Grabban escaped his marker to meet James Garner’s low free-kick at the near post but diverted his flicked effort wide of Nathan Baxter’s left-hand upright.
The Tigers were opened up down the left on 28 minutes as Djed Spence’s cute backheel released Johnson but he side-footed narrowly wide of the far post.
Forest boasted over 70% possession in a dominant opening 35 minutes but the Tigers grew in stature as half-time approached.
Greg Docherty’s 25-yarder took a big deflection, making it easy for Brice Samba to claim, and Mallik Wilks’ delicate left-footed free-kick from the edge of the box found the side-netting.
The improving Tigers were enjoying a promising spell and took the lead two minutes before the break thanks to a moment of magic from Lewis-Potter.
His exquisite touch with the outside of his right foot from Sean McLoughlin’s inch-perfect lofted pass took him effortlessly past Spence before smashing a fierce shot beyond Samba from eight yards.
The goal oozed quality and Lewis-Potter almost helped himself to another, glancing a free near-post header wide from Honeyman’s corner.
Forest came out strong after the restart and Baxter was forced into a fine stop to paw away Philip Zinckernagel’s looping header from Joe Worrall’s delivery.
But the lead was extinguished 10 minutes into the second half as George Honeyman was harshly penalised for a challenge on substitute Alex Mighten inside the area.
Referee John Busby pointed to the spot – much to Honeyman’s dismay – and after a long delay, Grabban kept his cool to slot right footed into the bottom corner.
McCann made a double switch on 64 minutes, bringing on Callum Elder and Tyler Smith for Ryan Longman and Wilks.
Elder’s introduction saw Lewis-Potter swap sides to the right, with the 20-year-old immediately hitting an effort into Samba’s midriff.
A perfectly-timed challenge from Jacob Greaves stopped Grabban in his tracks as he bore down on goal and McLoughlin thwarted the same man after a dart and delivery from Spence.
Grabban turned provider as the hosts completed the turnaround on 72 minutes, motoring down the right and sending in a deep cross which was missed by Di’Shon Bernard.
Johnson brought the ball down on his chest and calmly placed the ball through the legs of McLoughlin and under the left hand of Baxter.
Greaves’ off-balance header and McLoughin’s scuffed shot failed to trouble Samba as the Tigers looked to respond, with Tom Eaves replacing Josh Magennis in the final change.
Deep into added time, Lewis-Potter’s floated cross over Samba came back off the far post, the ball breaking for Docherty to blast over.
Elder’s header from Lewis-Potter’s knock down found the relieved arms of Samba as, despite a gallant effort, the unbeaten run came to an end.
Nottingham Forest (3-4-3): Brice Samba; Joe Worrall, Ryan Yates, Scott McKenna; Djed Spence, James Garner, Jack Colback, Jordi Osei-Tutu (Alex Mighten 40’ (Joao Carvalho 56’)); Brennan Johnson, Lewis Grabban (C), Philip Zinckernagel (Tobias Figueiredo 79’).
Subs not used: Ethan Horvath, Gaetan Bong, Cafu, Lyle Taylor.
Hull City (3-4-1-2): Nathan Baxter; Di’Shon Bernard, Sean McLoughlin, Jacob Greaves; Keane Lewis-Potter, Richie Smallwood (C), Greg Docherty, Ryan Longman (Callum Elder 64’); George Honeyman; Mallik Wilks (Tyler Smith 64’), Josh Magennis (Tom Eaves 81’).
Subs not used: Matt Ingram, Andy Cannon, Randell Williams, Tom Huddlestone.
Attendance: 26,513 (1,717 Hull City supporters).