JON Macken is demanding improvements from his Radcliffe side over the Christmas and new year period – especially on the disciplinary front.

Boro host Atherton Collieries on Boxing Day having lost four of their last five games in all competitions, the latest coming as they went down 3-0 at BetVictor Premier Division leaders South Shields on Saturday.

Macken has urged his side, still an impressive sixth in the table after promotion, to shape up with a trip to FC United to come on New Year’s Day.  

It is the amount of cards that are his principal cause for concern, Rick Smith sent off for two bookings at South Shields, the first of which came for dissent.

“We’ve learnt a hell of a lot in the last few games,” said Macken.

“With discipline and getting sent off, we can’t do it, and we’ve had a lot of bookings over the last few games, it’s not good enough, nowhere near good enough.

“We’re telling them week in, week out, don’t talk to the referee, don’t give abuse to the referee, they’ll caution you for dissent.

“They’re just not listening. That’s something we’re going to highlight over the next couple of weeks and we’re going to nail that down.

“The lads have given everything though and we’ve just come up short in numerous games and we will be looking to try and improve.”

Despite obvious frustrations, Macken has backed his side to continue matching the best in the BetVictor Premier Division with an impressive run of six straight wins, mainly in November, having lifted them to the sharp end of the table.

They head into battle with Colls as one of three teams on 23 points and just three points shy of third spot.

“We expected to go to South Shields and get something, that’s not being arrogant, that’s just where we’re at at the football club at the moment,” the former Manchester City striker said.

“We’ve got a good squad together and we don’t just want to go and get results, we expect our team to put performances on that warrant results.

“Saturday was no different. It doesn’t matter whether it’s top of the league or middle of the league, we go and try and win every single game. Unfortunately we just didn’t quite have enough.”