FOR the first time in his managerial reign, Jon Macken has been forced to read his Radcliffe players the riot act.

Disappointed and frustrated by Saturday’s Evo-Stik North defeat at home to Clitheroe, courtesy of an 83rd-minute winning goal, Boro had an immediate chance to avenge the 2-1 loss when they travelled to Shawbridge Street for a return match in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy on Tuesday.

It did not, however, go to plan. Macken was helpless to prevent his side suffering a 4-0 loss, and says his players fell well short of the standards he demands of them.

“I’m definitely sick of the sight of Clitheroe,” he said. “While it was very disappointing on Saturday – and a few home truths were told after that game – we just didn’t show the energy levels or the desire a cup quarter-final needs.

“We have been giving away poor goals and late goals, and the way we have been conceding through individual errors means a result like that has been coming.

“Maybe we didn’t have time to refocus after Saturday but I won’t be making any excuses because I expected them to show more fight, more heart and desire.

“These lads are still young, still learning but the minimum I expect of them is maximum commitment and I won’t use their inexperience as an excuse.”

It does not get any easier for Radcliffe over the next few weeks. After Saturday’s league game at home to fourth-placed Scarborough Athletic, Macken’s men complete the calendar year with three fixtures against top-seven teams, Bamber Bridge, Droylsden and Trafford.

And, under no illusions as to the size of their task, the manager will demand a reaction to that cup exit.

“They have to have mental strength if they want to play at this standard, get that game out of our system and put in a performance that’s warranted,” he added. “They have to stand up and be counted.

“They understand what’s needed, both as individuals and as a team.

“It’s a tough division and they have to go into each game fully focused because every game is tough.”