By GEORGINA DAVIES
At Victoria Park
CRAIG GUPWELL watched Newmains get stuffed – then blamed it on his players feasting on too much turkey.
Ten-man United collapsed against Saltcoats on a day to forget for the home side.
Co-boss Gupwell was left to wonder if his stars had taken their eye off the ball over the festive period.
He said: “The boys have obviously enjoyed their Christmas time a bit too much.
“We went three weeks without a game, came back last week and it looks as if the boys haven’t met each other.
“We were never in the game from the off. There was only going to be one winner.
“One team turned up to win and they took the three points and fully deserved to do so.”
Despite several attempts to score on a heavy pitch, United couldn’t convert against the Seasiders.
Sean Taggart had fired wide early on but Saltcoats seized on Marc Howson’s slip to take the lead on 37 minutes.
The visitors doubled their lead five minutes after the restart yet Newmains refused to buckle and still created chances. They just couldn’t get the rub of the green.
David Ross’ shot looked destined for the net but struck the grounded Taggart and Howson’s corner was inches away from going directly in.
Moments later Taggert – already on a booking – was late with a tackle which saw him land a second yellow.
That turned an already difficult ask into an even tougher task and United could only look on helplessly as Saltcoats wrapped things up with their third goal in the final minute.
Gupwell said: “We got overran. The other team was stronger than us, fitter than us and faster than us.
“The pitch was poor for both teams so we can’t use that as an excuse. One team managed to cope with it and the other didn’t.”
United will take a break from the league this Saturday when they host East Kilbride Thistle in the second round of the Ardagh Group West of Scotland Cup.
League One Thistle have only lost one of their last seven games although five of those games have ended in draws.
The clash is an earlier 1.30pm start and Gupwell added: “We’ve got East Kilbride next in the cup so that will take away some of the pressure of the league.
“Hopefully we can get a positive result but it’s going to take some hard work on the training ground to do that.”