JAAP Stam claimed his Reading FC players failed to get the basics right in a 2-1 defeat at Sheffield United.

Royals crashed to their third loss in four Championship games on Saturday after a lacklustre display at Bramall Lane.

Goals from Paul Coutts and ex-Royals loanee Billy Sharp in the first half put Chris Wilder’s men 2-0 up before Roy Beerens grabbed an 85th minute consolation from the visitors’ only shot on target during the entire match.

And Stam suggested his players fell well below the standards expected of them.

“We’re talking about the basic things that you need to bring to the game, what you need to do, how you need to start and the intentions that you have,” he said.

“If we’re not doing those things, you make it very difficult for yourself.

“We knew how they play and what their strengths are if you give them time, we spoke about that.

“We weren’t ourselves in the first half. We didn’t do things defensively and when we were on the ball and attacking, we weren’t good enough.

“We faced a very good team in form playing with lots of movement if you give them time. If you don’t do anything about that, they’ll get into their rhythm and make it difficult.

“They scored two good goals and we couldn’t go forward because we weren’t taking initiative on the ball.”

Reading did improve after the break but failed to test Blades keeper Jamal Blackman as the third-placed hosts notched a sixth win in seven home games.

Stam had been forced to start without a recognised striker again on Saturday as Jon Dadi Bodvarsson had been ruled out with a calf strain and Yann Kermorgant was not quite ready to make his comeback from hip and groin surgery.

As a result, Royals lacked punch up front, with Beerens’ close-range finish from Mo Barrow’s cross their only shot on target.

And Stam admitted his players gave themselves too much to do.

“You always ask questions as to why it comes in the second half when you’re already 2-0 down,” he added. “There’s that feeling of having nothing to lose, but I think you need to start like that from the start and give yourself some confidence.

“Do the things you’re good at and don’t think too much about the opposition.

“We did it better in the second half. You score one and you want to push on and get a second. But they’re looking for the counter-attack, and they’re looking to stay narrow and tight and not give up any gaps.”

Bracknell News:

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was ruled out with a calf strain.

Bodvarsson is now a doubt for Saturday’s home clash against Middlesbrough at Madejski Stadium (3pm ko), while Garath McCleary is also struggling with his groin after missing the clash against the Blades.

“Jon Dadi had a problem with his calf in training, so he couldn’t join the squad,” explained Stam. “The same with Garath McCleary, who had a problem with his groin and wasn’t available.

“We needed to make changes and play in a different way, but if we don’t do the things that we said then it’s going to be difficult.”

Reading have now lost six of their 12 Championship fixtures and are 20th in the table, two points above the drop zone.

Stam stressed: “We need to realise that in the situation we’re in, we need to be very focused and aggressive in everything that we’re doing, and to play our own game.

“By doing that, you get results. If you don’t do that, you won’t win games.”