Reading manager Mark Bowen admitted that he expected a lot more from his players in their 3-2 Championship defeat at home to Birmingham.
Birmingham went ahead through an own goal from Michael Morrison, the former Blues defender, but Yakou Meite nodded in the equaliser on the stroke of half time.
A stunning free kick from Jeremie Bela and a late effort from Alvaro Gimenez put Birmingham in firm control.
Reading substitute Lucas Joao reduced the gap from close range in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
“We were poor,” Bowen said. “I’m expecting a lot more from my side, especially in terms of quality on the ball.
“It’s easy to say that were missing our ‘ball players’ in John Swift and Ovie Ejaria and that was a big loss to us.
“But the players stepping in have got to be better on the ball in terms of passing, retaining possession and being braver on the ball.
“It’s all the things that I expect, anyway.
“They were lacking today. I’ve been saying for weeks that there are two sides to the game and we were off in both cases.
“I pride myself on my team picking up second balls but I thought that we were so poor at that.
“We were sloppy getting into the game and then in possession.
“I said to the players in the dressing-room ‘I’ve got no problem if you give the ball away’.
“But you then have to go and get it again and brave. I thought that we came away from that.
“I saw signs of that last week at Wigan. But we got away with that because we had a good last 20 minutes.
”I’m a bit angry and disappointed today. We’re better than that.”
Birmingham ended a five-match winless run in Pep Clotet’s first match as the newly appointed permanent head coach.
“I was very proud of that performance, absolutely,” Clotet said. “We have been very good away from home in the last few games.
“We knew that we would have to develop our football a little bit more and express ourselves in the way that we wanted to.
“We knew that today would be very difficult because Reading are usually very strong at home.
“Difficult not only to beat them but to impose our football on them.
“They wanted to control everything that happens in the middle of the park and then break quickly.
“They were also a threat on the set-plays.
“We knew that we had to be very good with the ball. Otherwise, we would lose it and they would be breaking on us.
“The team managed to do that very well.
“Most of our possession was in the opposition half despite the fact that we were handicapped by a couple of injuries in the first half.
“In the second half, when we played wide, the whole of their midfield began to open up.
“And then we started to dictate what was happening and our chances started to come.
“We then had a spell in the second half when we could have scored even more goals.
“Reading kept playing their style, trying to break with the ball, and they did it successfully.
“But we defended well on a number of their counter-attacks.”