A despondent Scott Parker admitted there could be ‘no excuses’ for the 3-0 defeat by Reading – not even the 18th minute dismissal of Matt Smith on his debut.

The Fulham captain owned up to being well beaten despite a debut striker receiving marching orders for a studs-up challenge on Royals midfielder Hope Apkan.

Smith’s pointless challenge in the centre circle was borne of frustration as the ball got away from him and made a tough task all the harder.

The note in Parker’s voice suggested the dream of an instant return to the Premier League is fast becoming a nightmare as Fulham went bottom with no wins from six.

“We all knew it was a tough league, and maybe we’re beginning to realise how tough,” he said.

“Before the sending off we were up against it, and it made it doubly harder to go in 1-0 down at half time. In the end they wore us down, and they were a good side and thoroughly deserved to win. We’ve got no real qualms.”?

Parker agrees Fulham’s playing style is ideal when defending a lead. The massive fly in the ointment is they’ve done so only once in six league attempts.

“We can’t seem to get in front,” he said. “We dropped off Reading and their midfield caused us problems. In the first half there was a couple of chances, and as the game wore on we were a bit leggy, but that would be making excuses, to be fair.”

The not-so-small matter of facing leaders Nottingham Forest on Wednesday offers a sliver of a silver lining. Parker reckons it offers an immediate chance to right Reading wrongs.

“It’s a quick turnaround, and we can take a good long look and see what we can do moving forward. We’ve got to put a quick line under the defeat at Reading.”