ANTHONY JOHNSON has branded the number of red cards shown to Chester players this season as ‘an embarrassment’.

Blues skipper Scott Burton (right) became the sixth player to be dismissed this term after two bookable offences in the 4-0 defeat to promotion rivals Altrincham.

The 49th minute sending off proved pivotal to the eventual outcome, as the visitors capitulated and shipped four times in the second half.

Joint-manager Johnson insists his side are not a dirty team, but has lamented the poor decision-making of some senior players in important games.

He said: “Believe it or not, our disciplinary record is something that me and Bernard (Morley) take really seriously.

“In training we’re always trying to drill into the players the importance of staying on your feet, and not giving the referee a decision to make.

“And that’s probably the most frustrating aspect - that none of these challenges that have ended in red cards are what you’d call straight reds. There’s no elbowing, no headbutts, nor any two-footed lunges - there’s no yellows for dissent or mouthing off either. What we’re seeing is players making the wrong decision and going to ground far too easily and collecting cheap bookings.

“And these aren’t young lads either, these are experienced footballers like Scott (Burton) and George Green, Danny Livesey and Gary Roberts. Experienced guys like that should know better and it’s an embarrassment when you see it on the pitch from your senior players. As managers we can’t legislate for those kind of decisions in games, but ultimately they are costing us points in games and it has to stop.”

Chester’s away form has proved a real vulnerability in this campaign, with the result at Moss Lane condemning them to a ninth league defeat away from the Deva.

Johnson is perplexed at his side’s inability to mirror their superb home record on the road, but remains desperate to remedy that situation in the remaining games.

“We’ve looked at it and I genuinely don’t think it’s a formation issue,” he added. “People have accused us of being too expansive on the road, but we’ve gone 3-5-2 at places like Blyth and got a pasting. We’ve set up a bit more conservatively against better teams like Chorley, Brackley and Stockport and picked up points. There’s no complacency from us on this issue, we know it’s not been good enough. We will sort it out and we’ve got four chances to prove that in the nine games we’ve got left.”