LUKE Norris’ strike a minute into the second half was enough for Swindon Town to end 2017 on a winning note as they edged out League Two high-flyers Notts County at home this afternoon.

The victory was just a fifth for Town at the Energy Check County Ground in all competitions this season and first since October, and was the ideal response to the hefty 5-0 drubbing at the hands of leaders Luton Town on Boxing Day.

It was also enough for David Flitcroft’s side to climb up one place into 10th in the table and they will head into the new year just two points outside the play-off places.

Town boss Flitcroft made four changes to the side from the XI that started that thumping defeat at home to the Hatters last time out.

Reice Charles-Cook replaced Lawrence Vigouroux in goal, while Kyle Knoyle, Ellis Iandolo and Chris Robertson came in for Ben Purkiss, Matt Taylor and Paul Mullin as the hosts shifted to a back five.

Moments of notable action were few and far between in the first half but Town had the ball in the net from the first real sight of goal for either side after 12 minutes, only to be denied the opening goal by an offside flag.

Keshi Anderson was bundled over midway inside the County half and Iandolo’s floated free-kick was met by a cracking volley from Amine Linganzi which flew past Notts keeper Ross Fitzsimmons but the midfielder had set off on his run a fraction too soon.

Another free-kick brought Swindon’s next effort shortly afterwards when Shaun Brisley hauled down Kaiyne Woolery 20 yards out, with Norris’ drilled low strike met by a good save from Fitzsimons down to his left.

A lengthy lull then unfolded, with neither side able to string phases together for any period of time as the ball spent most of the time lofted aimlessly into the air.

Having been a virtual spectator for most of the opening period, home keeper Charles-Cook was called into action for the first time eight minutes before the break when he snatched a teasing cross from Matt Tootle just ahead of the lurking Jorge Grant.

Town pushed for one more chance before the interval and a good probe forward from Knoyle saw with him deliver a cross from the right which broke to Anderson in the box but his shot was blocked and the whistle sounded with the deadlock intact.

Flitcroft clearly fired his troops up back in the changing rooms and the hosts roared out of the blocks in the second period, breaking the deadlock within a minute of play resuming.

Good work from Anderson saw him beat Tootle on the right before dart into the box and firing the ball across and although it bobbled around in front of Fitzsimons’ goal, Norris was on hand to swing a foot at it and poke it over the line.

Woolery was then baring down on the County goal in search of a second just five minutes later when he surged forward from halfway, holding off Hewitt to have a crack from the edge of the box but it flew into the side-netting.

Quality then dipped from the match for a spell but Fitzsimons was again the next keeper to be called into action as he pushed away a superb dipping 25-yard free-kick from Iandolo midway through the half.

Anderson and Woolery then combine nicely for both to head in on goal with 15 minutes to play but the County defence scrambled back well to deny them a clear shot.

County tried to build pressure in an effort to force an equaliser in the closing stages and almost grabbed one with virtually the last touch of the match but Charles-Cook produced a wonderful save to tip over Brisley’s header from a corner and ensure Town finished the year with a well-earned win.

SWINDON TOWN: Charles-Cook; Knoyle (Purkiss 89), Preston, Lancashire (capt), Robertson, Iandolo; Dunne, Anderson, Linganzi; Woolery (Mullin 89), Norris. Subs not used: Vigouroux, Goddard, Brophy, Gordon, Taylor.

NOTTS COUNTY: Fitzsimons; Dickinson (Jones 75), Brisley, Hewitt, Tootle; Grant, Walker (Saunders 75), Yates, Hawkridge (Hodge 82); Stead (capt), Alessandra. Subs not used: Pindroch, Smith, Hunt, Bird.

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 6,238