JOSE Gomes argued a heavy 4-0 defeat at title-chasing Sheffield United was harsh on his Reading FC side.

Royals got off to a shambolic start at Bramall Lane on Saturday when Kieron Freeman gave Blades the lead after just 38 seconds.

Gary Madine made it 2-0 on 16 minutes after a mix up between keeper Emi Martinez and Liam Kelly before the on-loan Cardiff City striker netted again a minute before the break.

The faintest of hopes of a second-half comeback were quickly extinguished four minutes after the interval when John Fleck notched the home side’s fourth to condemn Reading to their heaviest defeat of the season.

Now goal difference is all that is keeping Royals out of the bottom three as they are on the same number of points (29) as Rotherham United below.

Gomes said: “We conceded in the first minute and that makes things more difficult, we started the game in a losing position.

“It is a difficult stadium and a good team who showed why they are fighting for a different target. I didn’t like what we did and the way we played.

“The difference between the teams wasn’t as big as the score, but they fought more than us and they deserved to win.”

Gomes also suggested he read the riot act to his players during the interval with Royals already 3-0 down.

The Portuguese manager admitted: “I was angry at half-time. Nobody likes to lose or to concede goals, but I didn’t like the way we were playing.

“When we show good things in training but don’t put them onto the pitch, I don’t like that.”

Royals had kept four clean sheets in nine league games since Gomes replaced Paul Clement in December.

But their defence was ripped apart by Sheffield United who had the luxury of leaving 23-goal former Reading loanee Billy Sharp on the bench.

However, Gomes says there is no time dwell on the painful defeat ahead of a huge relegation six-pointer against Rotherham at Madejski Stadium this Saturday (3pm ko).

“This is an intense league,” he declared. “We don’t have time to cry. We have to look in the mirror, find what we have to improve in ourselves, and be better in the next match.

“I said it when we won, as well. Whatever the result, there is no time to cry or to celebrate. We have to recover and prepare for the next game.

“Our win last Wednesday (against Blackburn) is in the past, our defeat at Sheffield is in the past. We cannot change the results. What we can change is the way that we play.

“In the next match, we must show that we can play and we must fight for the points in a different way.”