A NEW year lies in wait and there is plenty of new promise for Swindon Town.

After a first half of the season that can largely be pencilled down as forgettable, green shoots of recovery are not in short supply ahead of the second half.

Yesterday’s game may not suggest so on paper as Town brought the curtain down on 2015 with a narrow defeat at Burton Albion to fall to a second straight League One loss over the festive period and remain the bottom half of the table.

But don’t let this scoreline be a distraction.

A penalty 13 minutes from time, scored by substitute Lucas Akins after Jordan Turnbull had felled Stuart Beavon, was all that separated Town from the team currently second in the table and who have led the way for much of the campaign.

Town goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux was unlucky not to finish with a clean sheet at the Pirelli Stadium after pulling of a string of fine saves as chances came at either end throughout a cracking contest.

The problem for Town was that Vigouroux’s opposite number was even better. Swindon carved out a plethora of openings but unable to find a way past Brewers stopper Jon McLaughlin, who was the best player on the pitch.

Although Martin Ling’s men have ended the year with back-to-back defeats, the four-match winning run before that is still fresh in the memory and if Town can reproduce more performances like they did against the Brewers, there should be plenty of special days in store in 2016.

Suspension forced Town boss Ling into a change from the side who saw that fine winning streak ended by Gillingham at home on Boxing Day, with Raphael Branco missing out following his dismissal for a second bookable offence at the County Ground.

Turnbull moved across the back-line to slot into his more natural position in the centre alongside captain for the day Adam El-Abd, with Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill coming in at left-back.

The shift in defence was evident early on and Town were almost caught out inside the opening three minutes and they were grateful to a sublime stop from goalkeeper Vigouroux for keeping them level.

Town were short in numbers at the back as Burton broke quickly, with Mark Duffy sent clean in on goal by a defence-splitting ball from Nasser El Khayati. It looked a certain goal as Duffy raced in one-on-one but Vigouroux was off his line quickly, standing his ground before dropping to the floor to push the effort around the post.

The visitors did not take long to test out the Brewers keeper either as McLaughlin got down well to keep out Nicky Ajose. The Town striker sprayed a fine cross-field pass to Brad Barry, whose deep ball back into the box picked out Ajose but the shot did not beat the diving McLaughlin.

The game continued at a frenetic pace and the Brewers had two more chances in quick succession, with Adam El-Abd hooking off the line from El Khayati before Vigouroux pulled off an excellent save to deny Beavon from the resulting corner.

Play went from end-to-end and a stunning strike from Fabien Robert was inches from breaking the deadlock. The Frenchman cut in from the left to shoot with his right foot and the diving McLaughlin tipped the strike over the bar.

Brewers keeper McLaughlin continued to be Town’s nemesis as he again thwarted their efforts to break the deadlock. First to be denied was full-back Ormonde-Ottewill, who sent in a low drive after Thompson and Gladwin had combined to release him.

McLaughlin then pulled off his best save of the opening period just after the half-hour mark. Gladwin’s low cross was turned goalwards by Jonathan Obika but somehow the Brewers keeper was able to react in time to hook it over the top from right underneath his own crossbar.

Robert and Obika saw further sights of goal before the break but again there was no way past the superb McLaughlin and the teams headed into the changing rooms all-square.

Vigouroux was the busier of the keepers in the opening exchanges of the second half, although he never really looked like being beaten, and Town were still dangerous themselves. One such instance saw Robert find Ajose with a cross from the right but the pressure from the Brewers defence forced the shot to go off-target.

Burton continued to go close, though, and a Duffy free-kick was flicked on by full-back Phil Edwards but sailed inches wide of the far post.

As the contest entered its latter stages the home side firmly had a stranglehold on proceedings but it was still a cruel blow when Town found themselves behind.

Turnbull was adjudged to have tripped Beavon in the box and referee Mark Brown pointed to the spot, and substitute Akins kept his cool from the spot to calmly place his strike down the middle to beat the despairing Vigouroux.

A tremendous save from Vigouroux then prevented Tom Naylor from doubling the home side’s advantage but Town soon threw everything forward in search of an equaliser.

Obika saw a couple of half-chances deflected out for corners but the visitors were unable to fashion out that one clear-cut opening that they needed and were left to feel hard done by as the final whistle sounded.