AFTER heartbreak at Wembley, Reading face another season in the Championship – and it could not have started much worse.

The 2-0 defeat by QPR aside, it was a poor performance and Tiago Ilori’s straight red-card rubbed salt in the wounds, giving Jaap Stam a real headache ahead of some tricky fixtures.

There were too many negatives to fit into this week’s article, but in particular Tyler Blackett looked completely out of sorts at left-back – I’m strongly of the opinion that the former Manchester United defender is a centre-back and nowhere near as good as Jordan Obita at left-back or left-wing-back.

Our performance was so out-of-sorts it was difficult to work out what formation we were playing. Adrian Popa was all over the place on the right flank, Pelle Clement was ineffectual, and George Evans and John Swift were nowhere to be seen.

New signing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson gave some encouraging signs before being taken off due to injury, but all in all it was an abysmal showing and did nothing to repay the faith of 2,000 travelling Reading fans.

However, it may somehow be a blessing in disguise.

This is because, in this transfer window, Reading have failed to make any big acquisitions yet, and while we’ve signed Modou Barrow from Swansea, Clement and Bodvarsson, it may be a sign to the owners we need more.

The Gillingham fixture on Tuesday night gave Stam the chance to try a youthfully-shuffled team in a competitive game.

The likes of Sam Smith, Andy Rinomhota, Omar Richards and Josh Barrett came into the side for the first time and looked keen to take advantage of the opportunity. With the addition of the youngsters, the team looked refreshed, focused and determined.

We did have to wait until the 71st minute for a breakthrough from a scintillating finish from Liam Kelly, but we never looked like losing the tie.

Stam will be pleased by the reaction – albeit with a changed team against lower-league opposition – but he'll be more concerned with how we go against Fulham and Aston Villa, two of the bookmakers' favourites for promotion.