James Harper scored a stunning late winner as Reading secured a much-needed victory over Wigan.
Kitson celebrates after putting Reading ahead
The Royals spurned several good chances before taking the lead when Chris Kirkland spilled Kevin Doyle's weak shot and Dave Kitson tapped home.
Wigan hit back and Jason Koumas curled a superb free-kick against the underside of the bar before his corner was headed in by Marcus Bent.
But Harper won it, slotting in after a fabulous reverse pass from Kitson.
The result, which lifts Reading out of the bottom three, was harsh on the visitors given their response to going behind - although Steve Coppell's side could have been four up by the time they took the lead.
Doyle had the first chance, bursting through after a neat turn on the halfway line but he was torn between taking a shot or picking out one of two men waiting for a cross and in the end he failed to do either.
I thought at half-time we had lost an opportunity to put the game out of sight
Liam Rosenior then forced Kirkland into action, the big England keeper pulling off a sensational one-handed reaction stop as the Reading man advanced on goal.
Kitson saw a well-directed near-post header cleared by Andreas Granqvist and Michael Duberry also went close with another header from a set-piece.
It was all Reading and the home pressure finally told - although it took a blunder by the otherwise impressive Kirkland.
The lively Doyle wriggled free and shot tamely at the keeper, who spilled the ball into the path of Kitson, the striker gleefully knocking in the rebound from a couple of yards.
Wigan, who had barely had a look-in until that point, could have been level within seconds when the excellent Koumas skipped his way past a couple of defenders before being upended by Ivar Ingimarsson.
Referee Keith Stroud initially pointed to the spot but changed his mind and awarded a free-kick after consulting his assistant.
That failed to faze Koumas, whose delicious curling effort beat Marcus Hahnemann but crashed back off the underside of the bar and to safety.
Wigan started get on top and continued in the same vein after the break.
Their reward came when Bent, leading the line in place of the injured Emile Heskey, met a powerful Koumas corner on the full and powered the Latics level from ten yards
Hanhemann then made a smart stop from Bent's fizzing low effort as the game flowed from end to end while the ever-willing Stephen Hunt sent a header narrowly wide from substitute Bobby Convey's teasing cross.
Twice in the last 10 minutes Wigan had excellent chances to secure all three points.
But Duberry's last-ditch tackle denied Bent a second goal and sub Julius Aghahowa rounded Hahnemann but struggled to keep his feet after being clipped by the Reading keeper and he was crowded out.
Wigan were made to pay when Harper coolly finished in the final moments after being picked out by Kitson's delightfully disguised reverse pass.
Reading manager Steve Coppell:
"I thought at half-time we had lost an opportunity to put the game out of sight.
"But psychologically it was very important to win today. It's a massive three points and it didn't matter how we got them.
"It's a very tough division and it can very quickly strangle you when you are down there. I hope this gives us a little bit of a confidence injection and we can go on from here."
Wigan manager Chris Hutchings:
"We certainly deserved at least a draw and probably all three points.
"We created chances and were the better team in the second half.
"We played very well after the break and had two good chances but we didn't take them and they go up the other end and get the winner in the last minute."
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Duberry, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Rosenior (Convey 63), Gunnarsson, Harper, Hunt, Kitson, Doyle (Bikey 90).
Subs Not Used: Federici, Fae, Long.
Booked: Ingimarsson, Rosenior, Hahnemann.
Goals: Kitson 29, Harper 90.
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Granqvist, Kilbane, Koumas, Brown, Skoko, Scharner, Bent, Sibierski (Aghahowa 79).
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Boyce, Olembe, Cotterill.
Booked: Brown, Bramble.
Goals: Bent 50.
Ref: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).