WE MAY only be five weeks into the new season but a notable pattern is already emerging – this Swindon Town side is full of heart and spirit.

Seven matches they have played in League Two and suffered only a single defeat.

A gutsy one-goal win at Morecambe on Saturday took that victory tally to three, all of which have been as hard-earned as possible.

While the triumphs at home to Macclesfield Town and Tranmere Rovers were all about a never-say-die attitude to come from behind, this latest success over the Shrimps was built on defensive resolve to protect a slender lead.

Boss Phil Brown has spoken repeatedly about his craving for clean sheets and 1-0 wins – he got both at the Globe Arena as Swindon claimed a first shut-out of the campaign.

Town have already shown a dogged defensive capacity this term, most notably in the point claimed by a nine-man side at Crawley Town that would have been three had it not been for a last-gasp penalty.

This time at Morecambe, they resolutely saw the job through despite again being forced to play with reduced numbers after a red card.

There have long been calls from supporters for more grit and determination from a succession of Swindon sides in recent seasons.

Brown’s current crop showed that in abundance at the weekend.

Elijah Adebayo rewarded a lively Town start with the opening goal after 26 minutes, but the visitors were then forced to play with 10 men for more than an hour after Kyle Knoyle was sent off for a lunging challenge on Aaron Wildig.

That naturally handed Morecambe the initiative, but the visitors turned in a lion-hearted performance at the back.

Town’s brave resilience was capped by a stunning save from keeper Luke McCormick – who was only playing due to number one Lawrence Vigouroux’s absence for international duty with Chile – in stoppage time at the end of each half to hold firm for victory, while young on-loan defenders Luke Woolfenden and Sid Nelson also turned in courageous displays.

Boss Brown made four changes to the side that earned a 1-1 draw at home to Milton Keynes Dons a week earlier, rewarding Town’s late goalscorer that day, Adebayo, with a place up front as Jermaine McGlashan dropped to the bench.

As well as that enforced change in goal, which saw McCormick start between the sticks for the first time in the league for Swindon, on-loan Ipswich Town youngster Woolfenden was handed a debut in the heart of defence after club captain Olly Lancashire was deemed only fit enough to start amongst the substitutes.

And Jak McCourt was another to earn a maiden league start for the club, coming into midfield at the expense of Martin Smith.

Town began on the front foot and a nice link-up between Taylor and Michael Doughty allowed Adebayo to charge into the left-hand side of the box, with the home defence forced to scamper across and concede a corner.

The visitors were looking strong on both flanks and nifty footwork from Keshi Anderson sent Knoyle into the box, but the full-back could not pick out Doughty with his pass.

Morecambe were kept quiet for 15 minutes but when they did come alive, they had two chances in quick succession.

First, Wildig picked out Vadaine Oliver with a dink into the box, but he could not keep his header down, before Woolfenden was almost punished for a lapse in concentration.

The Town debutant was caught out by A-Jay Leitch-Smith on the edge of the box and he swiftly played the ball across to Oliver, but Woolfenden recovered well to get in a crucial challenge.

Swindon were soon back on the offensive and Steven Alzate’s clever dummy from Adebayo’s ball across the 18-yard box presented Anderson with a shooting chance, but the effort did not break through a crowded box.

Nelson rose to meet a good Taylor free-kick from the left midway through the half, with the defender knocking the ball down into the six-yard box, but Marc Richards just could not react in time to guide it goalwards.

Richards played a pivotal role four minutes later, though, as Town took the lead after 26 minutes.

Again the chance came from a Taylor free-kick, this time from the Town half, with Richards then slipping Adebayo into the box and he calmly beat advancing Shrimps keeper Barry Roche to break the deadlock.

Morecambe almost had an instant equaliser within two minutes as Swindon survived a goalmouth scramble from a Liam Mandeville corner.

Steve Old was able to get in an effort, which cannoned back off Richards into the path of Rhys Oates, and the follow-up hit Town keeper McCormick in face before eventually going safely behind for goal kick.

A reckless challenge from Knoyle then swung momentum truly in the home side’s favour 10 minutes before half-time, with the Town right-back lunging in on Wildig on halfway and catching him high, leaving referee Paul Marsden with no choice but to brandish a red card.

Town boss Brown responded by beefing up his defence, sacrificing Anderson for club captain Lancashire as Woolfenden shifted across to right back.

It took just four minutes for the Shrimps to have a clear sight of a leveller when Leitch-Smith beat the visitors’ offside trap to race into the box, but Nelson darted across to get in an excellent last-ditch challenge.

Another good foray forward from Morecambe ended with Oates shooting wide from the edge of box, before the visitors were indebted to a stunning reaction save from McCormick in stoppage time for keeping their lead intact.

Town were opened up by the Shrimps’ pace, and Luke Conlan delivered a fine ball across the box to Mandeville, but McCormick was somehow able to claw the shot away and retain Swindon’s advantage at the break.

Morecambe were the first to threaten after the restart and Oliver climbed highest to meet a floated Oates cross five minutes in but sent his header straight at McCormick.

Excellent work from McCourt then presented Town with a chance to double their lead, with his challenge to win possession deep in the Shrimps half rolling nicely to Richards, but his attempt to shift the ball onto his right foot bought Old time to get in a block.

The home side then enjoyed a prolonged spell of pressure in the Swindon half, but the visiting defence held firm in robust fashion to deny them any clear sights of goal.

Brown decided to inject more pace into his side just after the 70-minute mark and replaced Richards with McGlashan.

After a long spell of spirited defensive resolve, Town were swiftly presented with two chances in quick succession to double their advantage, but twice keeper Roche came to Morecambe’s rescue.

First, Adebayo shot straight at the home keeper when a better option was to cut the ball back to the waiting McGlashan, who then put the ball straight at Roche himself after bursting into the box soon afterwards.

Morecambe inevitably rallied in the latter stages and Oliver helped on a long ball from the back, presenting Wildig with a shooting chance in the box with eight minutes to go, but McCormick was equal to the effort.

Brown’s final change was to introduce Ellis Iandolo for Alzate, but the hosts continued to press forward and their next opportunity again came to Wildig.

Mandeville’s ball in from the left was only half-cleared to the edge of the box, but the strike did not have enough curl on it to beat McCormick.

Town’s resolve finally looked to have been breached in stoppage time when substitute Joe Piggott flung himself at the ball in the six-yard box, but again McCormick refused to be beaten and palmed away the close-range header to ensure Brown’s troops made the long trip home with three hard-earned points.