Chris Beech admitted Carlisle United did not have the “edge” they needed as they returned to action with defeat at Harrogate.

Josh March’s first-half penalty, after a foul by Blues skipper Nick Anderton, was the difference in north Yorkshire.

United were below their best in their first game for two weeks.

And while head coach Beech hopes that regular games will now see his side regain their “rhythm”, he said they did not do enough in attacking situations against Simon Weaver’s side.

“They got the upper hand from a bit of rashness from Nick – if he doesn’t do that it’s not a penalty and it probably goes in 0-0 at half time,” the Blues boss said.

“But I actually thought before then, even though it was a basketball-style game, when we did get the ball down and Brennan [Dickenson] played some lovely inside passes, it looked like something was going to come for us.

“But we give the penalty away and it gave them ascendancy from that point.

“The lads did their best in the second half but you do want more from players to make sure they win that header – if a set play is going in, to make contact, the second ball…it was loose a lot, [we’ve] got to be more reading it and wanting it more, and then the ball comes to you.

“If you want to gain something you’ve got to work real hard for it. I think we did work hard but didn’t have the edge of a bit of difference.

“It didn’t quite happen. I want to win, but it was good to play and hopefully we can get in some rhythm now and play regularly.”

As United resumed their heavily-interrupted season, they went behind midway through the first half after what Beech described as a "daft" challenge by left-back Anderton on Harrogate forward March.

It followed a similar penalty avoidably conceded against Forest Green in United’s previous game.

Beech added: “I talk to players about doing an extra yard…there’s no need, both penalties are not in goalscoring situations.

“The one against Forest Green [a challenge by Callum Guy on Nicky Cadden] is a millimetre in the corner of the box, he’s not gonna score.

“The lad that Nick’s gone against, he’s going wide, not coming inside to score. See what happens, trust your goalie, Paul [Farman]’s a good goalkeeper, he made a good save after that. Stay on your feet.”

Beech admitted it was not a free-flowing spectacle and said he tried to adapt to that tactically as the game went on.

“[With] the weather, the conditions were poor and [the ball] was like a hot potato.

“I think the pitch is very tight, it’s eight yards narrower, something like five or six yards shorter [than ours] as well. By the time you’ve had a touch somebody’s all over you.

“Harrogate’s statistics…they get the most regains in the league, or one of the most…it’s because it’s so tight, the pitch, it doesn’t settle, players are always next to somebody.

“That’s why we ended up trying to make a bit more space to try and open out. But we didn’t get that clear-cut chance.

“Our centre-halves competed against physical centre-forwards. I thought their midfield got the better of us at times but we got on top at times. It was a pretty even arm-wrestle, really.”

The game finally went ahead at the third time of asking after December 29’s attempt lasted eight minutes because of concerns over frozen areas of the pitch, and a power cut called things off two weeks later.

This time a deluge of pre-match rain caused concern, but it had abated in time for kick-off.

“The weather conditions [heavy rain] were amazing an hour before the game, it was almost a case of the rollers being on to sponge up the water to make sure the game can go ahead,” Beech said. “I thought, ‘Here we go again’.

“That’s what happens – you get put into these positions. We’ll dress ourselves down, understand why we’re not getting what we want [in this game] and then we can train outside on Thursday and get ready for Saturday’s fixture [at Salford].”