The Royals struck twice in the opening 45 minutes through Orlando Sa and Nick Blackman but could have been five or six ahead at the break as Brentford’s defence stood off and allowed them acres of space around the box.
Only keeper David Button kept Steve Clarke’s team at bay with a string of superb reflex saves as strikers Blackman and Hal Robson-Kanu were given the freedom of Griffin Park.
Brentford pulled a goal back through Lasse Vibe midway through the second half but it was not enough to deny Reading, who sealed a 3-1 win when Blackman struck his second from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
Dijkhuizen pulled no punches in his assessment, saying: “We were very poor in the first half and to be honest I didn’t recognise some of my players. We were not good on the ball and struggled to keep hold of it.”
The coach replaced Toumani Diagouraga before the break with Alan McCormack, who added some much needed steel to the porous midfield and defence.
“He did well and gave us some leadership which we didn’t have and Josh Clarke came on to give some energy and spirit which was also missing. That disappointed me but it is difficult when you don’t have much on the bench and no attackers to choose from,” Dijkhuizen said.
“You always need a leader on the field and we missed that today, especially in the first half. But it is hard when there are a lot of changes pre-season and injures too.”
Referee Andrew Madley broke up any rhythm in the game to incur the wrath of the home fans against a physical Reading outfit.
However, Dijkhuizen insisted: “The Championship is fast and physical and we are not a big physical side so we have to play better football. I have my views on the referee but his performance did not influence the result.”
While the Brentford boss was left to bemoan his side’s first-half performance his Reading counterpart Clarke was delighted, saying it was the best he had seen from his side this season.
The Scot said: “I keep talking about performances and that first half was excellent. If we play like that then the results will follow and if they don’t I’ll still be happy.
“I thought we could have been out of sight by half-time but their keeper has kept them in it. I was out of my seat getting ready to celebrate when he stopped one shot.”
That effort, a deflected strike from Stephen Quinn, looked destined to fly in at the near post until Button’s reflex stop.
Button then repeated the feat from the corner that followed, this time spreading himself to deny Blackman’s flying header. Another double save followed as Reading smelled blood and the hosts threatened to collapse.
However, Button could not keep Reading at bay for the entire match as Blackman struck twice after Sa’s 17th-minute opener to earn the Royals their first Championship win of the season.
Clarke said: “I am pleased with Blackman but felt he should have had a hat-trick, but it was a good strong all-round performance so I can’t have too many complaints.
“We knew Brentford would be stronger after half-time but we looked solid and well organised and were excellent value for the points.”