BRETT Pitman was the hero after Swindon Town beat Bristol Rovers 1-0 in a turgid affair at the County Ground on Saturday.

In a game that featured very little quality from either side, Pitman’s late header gave Town a vital three points in their quest for survival in League One.

John Sheridan's men moved up to 18th in the table following the manager's first win, while a second clean sheet of the season came at the perfect time as Town hope to turn their form around in time for next weekend’s second local derby against Oxford United.

Town made four changes from the poor midweek performance against Accrington Stanley, the most notable of which came in goal.

Matej Kovar regained his spot in between the sticks after a couple of games on the side-lines while Dion Donohue, Mathieu Baudry and Jack Payne also returned.

Former Gas man, Tom Broadbent had to make do with a spot on the bench for Swindon, as did ex-Town loanee Ali Koiki for Rovers.

In a game of very little quality, the first 10 minutes were perhaps indicative of what would follow as Jack Payne dragged a shot off target from distance while Rovers’ Sam Nicholson headed over from an early corner.

Payne once again shot off target from outside the box as the first 15 minutes ticked by without much goalmouth action.

Town had huge shouts for a penalty waved away in the 21st minute when Hallam Hope went down inside the box after stealing position.

The referee remained unmoved, however, and Hope got up quickly after the event.

Brendon Hanlan and Nicholson both shot wide from just outside the box in similar positions for Rovers midway through the first half before Josh Grant volleyed over from a further corner.

Rovers had a couple more shots around the half-hour mark as Alfie Kilgour twice headed over from successive corners.

Brett Pitman hit the side netting after a wonderfully-weighted ball forward from Mathieu Baudry, and moments later Jonny Smith shot straight at Anssi Jaakkola.

With less than 10 minutes until the break, Akin Odimayo collected midway inside Rovers' half, after Jonny Smith lost possession, and rampaged forward before cutting inside onto his left and shooting straight at Jaakkola.

Donohue was booked for a heavy challenge on Nicholson just before the break, while Pitman summed up a woeful first 45 for all concerned after blasting a first-time volley towards the back of the Stratton Bank from long range.

Rovers had the first opportunity of the second half after the ball made its way over to Josh Grant on the right. His shot was powerful, but deflected wide for a corner.

The second half continued with a worrying lack of goalmouth action for either side – only the introduction of Jordan Stevens in place of Jonny Smith dissected a threadbare 20-minute period.

Jonathan Grounds was shown his fifth yellow card of the season just after the hour, meaning he is now suspended for Tuesday’s home game against Lincoln City. Moments later, Odimayo was also booked for a late tackle.

Hallam Hope went close to opening the scoring in the 65th minute after a ball on from Matt Smith dropped to the feet of the attacker 25 yards out.

Hope opened his body up and curled an effort wide of the target from distance.

Town almost took the lead in fortuitous circumstances with 20 minutes remaining after David Tutonda's clearance behind was miscued.

He still managed to do enough to push it away for a corner, but it certainly wasn't where he intended.

But with 15 minutes remaining, a woefully abject game was given a breath of life when Pitman headed into the net from Matt Smith’s free-kick out on the left.

Neither player had enjoyed a particularly successful game, but the goal was a welcome bit of quality from the pair.

Inside the final 10 minutes, Matej Kovar made a wonderful save down to his right to keep the score at 1-0.

The ball fell to Luke McCormick on the edge of the box, and the Rovers man caught it sweet as a nut but the Manchester United loanee sprung down to his right to push the ball away with a firm wrist.

Seconds later, Nicholson headed against the post from six yards out as Rovers piled on the pressure.

But it was not to be for Paul Tisdale’s side as Town comfortably held out in the final five minutes – plus added time – to claim victory.

STFC starting XI: Kovar, Odimayo, Grounds, Baudry (C), Donohue, M Smith, A Grant, J Smith, Hope, Payne, Pitman.

STFC substitutes: Caddis, Joel Grant, Curran, Stevens, Hunt, Fryer, Broadbent.

BRFC starting XI: Jaakkola, Hare, Harries, Ehmer (C), Kilgour, Tutonda, Josh Grant, Upson, McCormick, Nicholson, Hanlan.

BRFC substitutes: Van Stappershoef, Baldwin, Koiki, Westbrooke, Walker, Hargreaves, Oztumer.