Tuesday night's poor showing against Doncaster was erased from the memory as Forest moved five points clear of the Championship drop zone.
The in-form McCleary, Higginbotham and Reid scored the goals and it was Andy Reid's display that had Steve Cotterill purring.
"Reidy has Premiership quality - there's no doubt about that," said the City Ground boss.
"That left foot of his is like a wand and he's scored a great goal for us today.
"I am delighted for him because he has worked very hard. He's got better and better since the time I came into the club and he's deserved the praise he gets."