Visitors Ipswich saw themselves reduced to nine men with Stearman and Martin sent off but held out until the 84th minute when Lewis McGugan brought the City Ground to its feet.
The midfielder had entered the fray for Henri Lansbury as Billy Davies looked to keep the winning run going after excellent results at Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday.
Davies had started with the same XI who impressed in Saturday's 1-0 win at Hillsborough, Sam Hutchinson earning a place on the bench after his return from injury.
Ipswich made two changes with Forest loanee David McGoldrick not eligible to play. He and Carlos Edwards were replaced by Daryl Murphy and Andy Drury.
Defeat for Middlesbrough moves Forest up a place to 7th in the Championship while a draw for Brighton sees the Reds move closer to a top-six spot.
Speaking afterwards Davies said: "We're not always going to get that fluid, passing football and we've had that in our last three matches. What we got tonight was a grinding team who looked completely leggy and they dug in and got the result.
"Our energy wasn't crisp and quick, our passing wasn't crisp and quick but, as I said to them at the end 'I can't fault you'. They've given us all they've got again."