DAVID Flitcroft’s tenure as Swindon Town manager began with a hard-fought win on the road as they opened the new League Two season with three points at Carlisle United.

Flitcroft took over at the County Ground in the wake of the team’s relegation from League One last season and has immediately stamped his authority on the club by bringing in 10 new faces.

Eight of those were involved in Flitcroft’s first matchday squad and the initial signs show plenty of promise as a new-look Swindon side looked hugely impressive throughout the 90 minutes at Brunton Park to give their manager the perfect start.

Luke Norris headed Town in front after half-an-hour, with the Town striker stooping to meet Chris Hussey’s free-kick, although he had his afternoon cut short in the process because of a shoulder injury.

Paul Mullin then doubled the lead in the opening stages of the second half, bundling the ball home after Jack Bonham could only parry John Goddard’s drive following a mistake by Gary Liddle.

Luke Joyce’s curling effort from the edge of the box reduced the arrears for Carlisle to set up a nervous final half-hour, however, there were no genuine moments of concern for the visitors as they saw of the closing minutes in determined fashion to begin the season in triumphant fashion.

After a tepid opening 10 minutes, Town began to offer the first signs of life in front of goal, with Mullin having the first two chances of the game. First, the summer signing from Morecambe saw a header from James Brophy’s cross blocked by Tom Parkes in the six-yard box before he then cracked a long-range effort well over the top after a quick counter.

Mullin then turned provider, with his good work in the box allowing striker partner Norris to send in a shot from the edge of the box that was saved by home keeper Bonham.

All the pressure was coming from the visitors and James Dunne fired straight at Bonham after 15 minutes, with Chris Hussey’s free-kick bouncing back to him off the wall after Brophy was brought down on the edge of the box.

Having been a virtual spectator so far, Town stopper Lawrence Vigouroux had to be on his toes midway through the half to tip Nicky Adams’ looping header over the bar.

That seemed to kick the game into life and three more chances arrived in quick succession. First, Danny Grainger’s corner sailed all the way through the Town box and was worked back in by Joyce, with Parkes’ snatched effort drifting narrowly wide.

At the other end, Mullin saw flicked header from Brophy’s cross caught by Bonham before Jamie Devitt hit the Town woodwork, cutting in and cracking an effort against the post from 16 yards after driving up the left from halfway.

A good contest and really opened up and Town got their noses in front just after the half-hour mark when Norris flung himself to meet a whipped free-kick from Hussey at the back post, stooping low in front of Bonham to head home.

However, the Swindon striker landed awkwardly in the process and after immediate treatment on the pitch, it was the last action he saw as he had to be withdrawn and was replaced by Harry Smith.

The visitors went closest to another goal before the break when newly-appointed captain Olly Lancashire met Hussey’s corner from left by it was well saved by Bonham to keep the score to 1-0 at half-time.

Town got the second half off to a dream start and needed less than three minutes to double their lead. Goddard pounced on a mistake from Liddle and let fly from 25 yards and although Bonham dived to keep it out, Mullin was on hand to bundle the loose ball home.

Carlisle were not going to go down without a fight and reduced the deficit eight minutes later when a ball into the Town box was not properly dealt with and Joyce curled a low strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Town thought they had calmed their nerves when they got the ball in the back of the net for a third time just after the hour mark as Smith tapped into an unguarded net, but the big striker had strayed offside when meeting Mullin’s flick-on when challenging keeper Bonham.

Chances continued to come at either end and Vigouroux made a fine point-blank save from substitute Richie Bennett’s header to keep his side in front.

The game began frantic in the dying stages as Carlisle pressed in desperate search of the goal but Town dug deep and there were no major scares to contend with despite a despairing late header from Bennett and low drive from Hallam Hope as they calmly saw out the closing minutes for an impressive victory.

CARLISLE UNITED: Bonham; Miller (Bennett 65), Liddle, Parkes (Ellis 76), Grainger (capt); Lambe, Joyce, Jones, Devitt; Hope (Miller 76), Adams. Subs not used: George, Cosgrove, Salkeld, Egan.

SWINDON TOWN: Vigouroux; Purkiss, Lancashire (capt), Conroy, Hussey; Brophy (Iandolo 60, Thomas 83), Linganzi, Dunne, Goddard; Mullin, Norris (H Smith 34). Subs not used: Henry, Robertson, T Smith, Twine.

Referee: Andy Haines

Attendance: 6,036 (557 away)