CRAIG GUPWELL admits Newmains were made to pay for starting slowly again.
Amateur side Carluke Thistle went 3-0 up inside the first 20 minutes of their final pre-season friendly at Kirkfieldbank.
The loss comes after United also took time to get going against West Calder on Saturday.
Carluke Rovers are next up in Saturday’s League Cup section opener and Gupwell insists standards must improve.
He said: “In the last two games it has taken us 45 minutes to get started. We need to cut that out.
“We need to go into the competitive game on Saturday ready to go from the first whistle.
“At the end of day you can’t give any team a 45 minutes head start.
“At the same time you have to credit Carluke. They were ready for the game and brought the game to us.”
It was a far from an ideal start for Newmains as Carluke took just three minutes to go one-up when a looping shot from outside the box beat the keeper.
United struggled to keep Thistle at bay and the home side doubled their advantage from a well worked counter-attack.
Things went from bad to worse five minutes later after Newmains conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area.
Carluke took full advantage, driving it low into the bottom corner for No3.
After Gupwell made a handful of changes at the break United looked a hungrier side when the game restarted.
They pulled a goal back early in the second half to reward their efforts.
Striker Donaghy was released through on goal and finished with aplomb.
The strike sparked some momentum into Newmains and they pulled another back with 15 minutes left.
After working the ball down the right side it was played infield and McClay curled it into the bottom left corner.
The team desperately pushed for the equaliser but it wasn’t to be.
Gupwell will take some positives from the clash though.
He added: “When we came out in the second half there was a bit more desire.
“It looked like there was a hunger to go out there and prove a point.
“We had some more legs in the middle of the park and there was a will to go and challenge for the ball.”