Chris Beech insisted Carlisle United paid the price for being “too nice” in their opening-day league thrashing at Cambridge.

The Blues shipped three goals for the third consecutive game as they were subjected to a 3-0 defeat at the Abbey Stadium.

Beech conceded Cambridge got the better of United in the key positions of centre-half and centre-forward but denied his side were guilty of a lack of creativity.

He also suggested the hosts benefited from far more refereeing decisions than the Cumbrians and that Cambridge excelled in “the dark arts”.

Beech said: “I think we need to stop being so nice.

“Their boys are strong. Cambridge’s two centre-halves were constantly fouling JJ [Kayode], and their two centre-forwards were constantly fouling my centre-halves.

“It made a big difference because the ref can’t see what’s going on.

“I thought their centre-halves were better than ours – any cross that came in they headed or blocked.

“Their two centre-forwards did very well in terms of being very physical, nudging, pushing, clipping heels, things like that. It put ours out of their stride and made a significant difference to the result.”

Carlisle got off to a dismal start as Luke Hannant scored in the ninth minute after United’s Aaron Hayden and Rod McDonald had tried and failed to clear the same ball.

“The centre-halves were probably trying too hard in going for the same ball,” the head coach said.

“You could argue it’s better two going for it than none. But it’s collided with them at that point. It shouldn’t happen but it has.

“It’s down to us not dealing with the long ball correctly. It was a great game to play in if you were a centre-half – the ball’s constantly coming to you. A day where you get 10 out of 10 in the paper, you don’t have to search for it; all they’re doing is ramming it down your neck.

“But you have to deal with it and we didn’t as well as we should.”

Paul Mullin doubled the lead on 16 minutes and influential striker Joe Ironside wrapped things up for Mark Bonner’s side late on.

Carlisle’s shot count was high in response but they seldom threatened home keeper Dimtiar Mitov and went down to their heaviest opening day league loss for seven years.

Beech added: “We had close to 20 attempts at goal but not enough that worked their goalkeeper.

“It was similar to last week at Oldham with the amount of crosses, corners, blocked shots, one-twos, pull-backs, but not picking out a player.

“The way we set each other up has to be better so we can get our shot off first time rather than having to take a touch. It wasn’t quite right to score.

“They had two physical centre-forwards who aren’t possibly as technical [as ours], but they scored. We didn’t. They [did] the dark arts a bit more and did it well.”

Beech also said the officials were not alert to some of Cambridge’s other habits in the game.

He said: “The footballs take forever to get back on the pitch. The ref isn’t speeding up opponents. The balls behind the goal were miles away in the second half and nearer in the first half.

“The ref doesn’t see these things. It makes a significant difference to the tempo. A ball comes back onto the pitch and you can’t play. It slows everything down.

“It was 24 minutes and 38 seconds when we got a decision that could have gone either way – two people heading the ball and we got the corner rather than a goal kick being given.

“I look at things like that. I reminded the fourth official of that. But they [Cambridge] were already on their way.

“I think nowadays it’s difficult for referees, but I wish they knew the game a bit more, and knew how to manage it better.

“We were chasing. The lads chased. If we hadn’t chased I’d be very frustrated but they did.”

Asked if United needed more creativity in the middle of the park, Beech said: “Creativity’s fantastic but this game wasn’t lost on creativity. If we’re getting 19 shots off, that’s quite creative.

“Not scoring or working the goalkeeper enough isn’t good enough. It’s not creativity that was needed, it was more composed end product.”