Bristol Flyers1623143790Win

Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on another night of fluctuating fortunes at the Vertu Motors Arena.

Marc Steutel’s men led by 12 points heading into the final period after a 14-0 third quarter tear broke a feisty affair wide open.

But not for the first time this season Bristol came on strong down the stretch on Tyneside — scoring 37 points in the final 10 minutes to seal a 90-86 win.

Eagles Men let the lead slip in the fourth quarter. (Photos: Gary Forster)

And Newcastle now face Surrey Scorchers in Guildford tomorrow under mounting pressure to stay in the top four conversation.

Twelve missed free throws hardly helped the Eagles’ cause on a night when the hosts went to the bonus stripe 25 times.

And Steutel will be concerned that his players failed to protect the ball in possession during key periods of a tense fixture.

But the real story of the game was Newcastle’s inability to maintain their defensive solidity during a disastrous final quarter.

The Flyers had found it tough to break down the men in black up until that point: the focused Eagles restricted their rivals to 53 points in 30 minutes as they laid the foundation for what looked like being a solid win.

That huge defensive effort — coupled with another offensive masterclass from homecourt MVP Jordan Johnson — should have been enough to seal victory.

But never-say-die Bristol had other ideas.

Flyer’s Power Forward Levi Bradley helped the visitors come back in the final minutes. (Photos: Reece Anderson)

And the Flyers capitalised on Newcastle’s unconvincing start to the fourth period to force their way back into contention.

Tevin Olisson and Kedrian Johnson suddenly found the space, looks and momentum required to cut deep into the Eagles’ double-digit lead.

And with Bristol on the charge the Eagles allowed indiscipline and indecision to creep in.

With two minutes on the clock Newcastle found themselves eight points down — head coach Steutel summing up the growing sense of frustration as he was slapped with an untimely technical foul.

A Rickey McGill three-point play brought the hosts back to within a bucket of the Flyers in the final 48 seconds.

But Bristol scored the next four to take the league series against the Eagles on points difference and all but secure a top seven finish.

Jordan Johnson finished with 32 points, eight assists and six rebounds to reinforce his value to a side struggling to find any late-season consistency.

Jordan Johnson put in an MVP worthy performance with 32 points and 8 assists. (Photos: Gary Forster)

And Steutel will be hoping his star man stays fit and firing on all cylinders throughout the regular season run-in and into the end-of-season playoffs.

Johnson found support from McGill and Devin Whitfield — who bagged 13 points apiece — as he underlined his sensational first season in a Newcastle vest.

But the absence of all-rounder Josh Ward-Hibbert will be a concern heading into the post-season and the experienced guard’s competitiveness was a big miss down the stretch against Bristol.

The Jekyll and Hyde Eagles now head south looking to replicate last month’s sensational road win at Leicester and complete a 3-1 series win against Surrey.