By JOHN NOLAN
at Keanie Park
THE pitch was bigger than usual – and Craig Gupwell admits Newmains ran out of steam as their four-game unbeaten run came to an end.
Only some top saves from keeper Gordon Bruce prevented the scoreline being bigger on an unusually lacklustre afternoon in Renfrewshire.
Co-boss Gupwell didn’t have any arguments at the final whistle as not even the autumnal sunshine could brighten up his day.
He sighed: “I’m just disappointed. I don’t think we can have any complaints because the better team won.
“It took us a wee bit of time to adapt to the size of the park. We’re used to playing on a smaller pitch and some of the legs looked a bit tired.
“But we’ve played on big parks before so it’s not an excuse. Sometimes you just get days where it doesn’t click for you.
“I can’t fault the effort from the boys. They gave it everything for the full ninety minutes but nothing fell our way.
“We just need to pick ourselves up and move on next week.”
United struggled in the first half as their midfield was completely overran by Burgh.
They left gaps all over the bigger park, particularly in the wide areas, which Johnstone exploited.
Burgh’s pressure finally told on 20 minutes when Billy Davies smashed home after the ball had pinballed around in the box from a corner.
Newmains did well not to implode as the home side continued to attack and create chances.
Centre-back Davie Ross and keeper Bruce made a couple of crucial blocks and saves to keep the opposition at bay before the break.
Newmains played with a lot more urgency after the restart and managed to prevent Burgh playing the same free-flowing football as the first half.
But they again relied on Bruce to pull off the big saves when the defence were exposed.
They rarely troubled the Johnstone keeper enough until a late onslaught which included Adam Robertson seeing an effort cleared off the line.
The breakthrough didn’t come though and Gupwell said: “At half-time we told the boys we could see the midfield being overran.
“We told them to keep their shape and be more disciplined so we could dictate the game more.”
United are away again this weekend to Cardonald-based St Anthony’s who crashed six past Saltcoats on Saturday and have won their last four games.
Gupwell added: “The boys have got a good confidence about them now. We need to use that confidence to bounce back. We can’t get carried away with ourselves.
“We’ve managed to go four unbeaten which is a great record. We’ll take this one on the chin and it’s all about reacting well now, which I’m sure we will do.”