BRADFORD Dragons were narrowly beaten in two English League Division One road trips at the weekend - 88-82 to Lancashire Spinners and 74-68 against Reading Rockets.

Dragons went into the game on Saturday at Bury's Castle Hill Leisure Centre on the back of a victory over Tees Valley Mohawks, whereas Spinners were hoping to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.

At times, Bradford's support at Bury drowned out the large home contingent and, having taken the lead with a Ricky Fetske jump shot, the white-rose visitors were nine points ahead three-quarters of the way through the first period.

By the first break, however, the lead was down to two at 24-22, and Spinners would have led 46-43 at half-time were it not for a Rihards Sulcs three-pointer.

Dragons started the third quarter strongly and built up a three-point advantage, but that was as good as it got in what has become the Achilles heel period for the Bradford club, and by the end of it the Bury hosts led 72-61.

That lead became 14 points and it looked like the result was a foregone conclusion, only for the Dragons to cut the margin to five points before running into foul trouble.

Fetske was already fouled out, and the final hammer blow came with 90 seconds left when the inspirational Dwayne Camille went over on his ankle, resulting in him being carried off court by the big Mike Bernard of the Spinners.

That was the end of Bradford's resistance, the hosts winning by six.

Nicholas Moore, who finished the match with a two-point jump shot, headed the Dragons scorers with 22, also taking ten rebounds for a double-double, while Fetske scored 19 and Camille 11.

The following day, Bradford were at Rivermead Leisure Centre, and the long journey seemed to take its toll on the Dragons, who trailed 25-14 at the end of the first quarter.

However, the visitors were a different kettle of fish in the next quarter, tying the scores at 27-27 and going into the half-time break at 37-37 after being inspired by Sulcs, who had a 100 per cent shot conversion, with five field shots and four free throws.

Bradford did their usual disappearing act in the third quarter, trailing by ten with just under two minutes remaining, but two-pointers for Fetske and Sulcs and a couple of Jason Swaine free-throws meant that the deficit was only 53-49 going into the final quarter.

Scoring was difficult for both teams in the last stanza, but with Adrai Rodriguez Vinas opening their fourth-quarter account from the free-throw line, Fetske gave the Dragons the lead with a two-pointer.

But Reading had enough in the tank to triumph 74-68.

Sulcs finished with 22 points (eight out of ten field shots, six out of six free-throws), while Fetske notched 18 and Belgium Henri Bongo 11.

Bradford's head coach Chris Mellor said: “On Saturday, we didn’t get enough stops, at crucial times in the last ten minutes, while on Sunday, our defence was better but we went 0-15 from the three-point line, which certainly didn’t help our cause.”

The Dragons must now lick their wounds in order to prepare for their final home league game of the season against ex-BBL team Worthing Thunder at the Dragons' Den on Saturday (6.15pm).

Victory would allow the Dragons to leapfrog their opponents, although a spot in the end-of-season play-offs is clearly out of reach.

The Dragons are offering all schools in the Bradford area the opportunity to obtain free tickets for all their pupils (under-16s only) for Saturday's game.

Each ticket admits two under-16s free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult (adult price £5).

Schools that are interested in taking up this offer should contact, before Thursday evening to claim their free tickets.