Again without influential players such as skipper Luke McCullough and Belgian import Adnan Januzaj, the Reds were undone by some misfortune and loose defending at times. Nicolas Ioannou turned the ball past Jonny Sutherland to register an own goal with only seven minutes on the clock and it was always going to be an uphill battle after that setback.
Sutherland made one top-drawer save to keep United in the game but he had little chance when Albert Rusnak latched onto a Devante Cole pass to double the hosts' lead on 35 minutes.
Some marvellous work from Jack Barmby teed up Luke Hendrie to pull one back but any hopes of a stirring rally were dashed when Cole, Andy's son, claimed the third as he fought with Ioannou to squeeze in a cross by Adam Drury at the near post.
Mats Daehli fired wide and Liam Grimshaw, who returned from injury to make his first start of the season, was desperately unlucky to hit the woodwork but there was to be no late drama despite a much-improved second half display.
United: Sutherland; Grimshaw, Ioannou, Blackett, Ekangamene; Barmby, Hendrie, Rudge, Daehli; van Velzen, Byrne (Wilson 56). Subs not used: Jacob, Wilkinson, Gorre, Rowley.