Royals boss Veljko Paunovic labelled his side's first-half performance in the 3-1 defeat away at Brentford as 'horrendous'.

The Bees raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half an hour courtesy of a goal from Matias Jensen and a brace from winger Bryan Mbuemo.

Sone Aluko came off the bench to pull one back for the Royals, but it was a case of too little too late as Reading fell to a third defeat in the last four games.

Speaking after the game, Paunovic said: "I think we had a horrendous first half against a very good team who took advantage of the confusion and the bad start we had.

"The idea in the first half didn't work and we were just punished, which is how it works in football.

"We weren't able to stop the bleeding until the second half. In the second half, we fixed what we needed to fix and our adjustments worked very well - the second half was a different story. 

"Playing good football with fantastic spirit, the application was great, but we fell short with the result.

"It's important when you're losing 3-0 at half time, you don't break down. We sustained and lifted ourselves from our knees to our feet. If one of those opportunities at 3-1 with a lot of time on the clock [goes in] I think it would've been a very exciting game."

Despite being seven points clear at the top of the table earlier in the campaign, Reading have now fallen out of the play-off places. But, Paunovic has said he isn't focused on league positioning - despite the recent drop in positions.

"It is not good for us to be attached to the standings.

"We have to look at our performances and look at our next opponent and how we can build form over the next stretch. That's what we control. 

"When we were first, and seven points clear, I said don't look at the table because this is a marathon and we know this goes in cycles.

"Now it is the same. 

"I'm going to encourage everyone to keep looking at themselves and our next opponent and how we can prepare best for them."

Eyebrows were raised amongst Royals in the second half as Reading only made one substitution, despite lacking in firepower. 

Explaining the decision, the Serbian boss said: "We would have done, but I think how we played in the second half - everyone looked fresh.

"No one reported any issues at half time or fatigue, except Alfa [Semedo] and it was our call he needed to be subbed off because he just looked tired.

"We also needed to give an opportunity with a more attacking player like Aluko, which worked well.

"He did well and not only scored the goal but he also impacted and affected the game in a positive way.

"I think we have been severely punished [by injuries] most of them were unavoidable. We will focus now, moving forward, to recover our guys."

Paunovic confirmed that John Swift is set for a return against Luton Town on Boxing Day, with star-striker Lucas Joao also possible to return against the Hatters.