PELLE Clement admitted Reading FC were beaten by Sheffield United before half time.

Royals were 2-0 down at the break at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night after former loan striker Billy Sharp and Mark Duffy netted for the visitors.

Jaap Stam's host were virtually anonymous during the first half and mustered just one effort on goal, a shot from Clement from outside the box was that comfortably saved.

Reading improved after the break and Omar Richards pulled one back, but Sharp scored a controversial second to send Chris Wilder’s Blades into the top six.

And midfielder Clement confessed: “We threw the game away ourselves in the first half.

“If you show up like we did then you make things so difficult.

"If we started the first half like we did the second then it would have been a completely different game.

“It’s so frustrating that we can’t start games like that. We have to be sharp from the first minute and it’s not happening.”

Royals blew a gilt-edged chance to level when Leandro Bacuna’s penalty was saved by Blades sub keeper Simon Moore in the 62nd minute.

They were punished moments later when Sharp made it 3-1 with a goal that riled Royals.

Chris Gunter expected United to return the ball after he had let it run out of play so Liam Moore could receive medical attention.

But Wilder’s side played on and Sharp added his second the frustration of the hosts.

Clement, though, insists the goal should have been avoided.

“We shouldn’t let teams get an opportunity like that,” he declared. “We could have pinged the ball towards their corner flag so things like that don’t happen. It’s another small and silly mistake that’s very frustrating.

"It’s three points thrown away. We are capable of getting results at this level.”

Reading Chronicle:

Omar Richards scores against Sheffield United.

And the Dutchman also refused to point the finger at Bacuna for missing from the spot.

"Leandro felt confident enough to take the penalty," he stated. "But that's football, everyone can miss.

"It could have got us back in the game and helped us go on to get a third.

"We felt after Omar's goal that we could get back in it. Players got more comfortable and the atmosphere improved.

"He is disappointed. He tried to help the team and he took the responsibility, so all credit to him."

Clement also refrained form blaming the icy surface for the defeat.

"The pitch was not an excuse, Sheffield United played on it." he said.

"It actually suited our style.

"But looking back maybe we should have taken fewer risks at the back."

Reading have now won just once in 14 Championship matches and are four points above the relegation zone in 18th position.

Jaap Stam's men face a mammoth week ahead as they travel to leaders Wolves this Saturday (5.30pm ko, live Sky Sports) then face a six-pointer against Bolton Wanderers at Madejski Stadium next Tuesday (8pm ko).