CARLISLE United provided Swindon Town with their first test in League Two back on August 5 as David Flitcroft led his new-look team to a 2-1 victory on the opening day of the season.

A total 245 days, 41 games and a management change later, Phil Brown’s Swindon are two points away from the play-off places.

Town recorded their first clean sheet since February and their first goalless draw of the season as Carlisle visited the Energy Check County for the reverse fixture on Saturday.

The result also signalled the halfway point between the former Hull City manager’s arrival and the end of the season, and with five of his 10 games gone, you can start to see the hallmarks of a Phil Brown team.

Defensively, Town are improving. And despite only picking three points in their last four games, Swindon have gained ground on the play-off places.

While some may see Saturday’s stalemate as an opportunity missed - and in many ways, it is - it also shows there is no need to panic with plenty of points still to play for.

In his second home fixture at the helm, Brown opted to make three changes to the team who snatched a 1-1 draw away at Crawley Town on Easter Monday.

Luke Norris, who injured his shoulder in that draw earlier this week, was removed from the squad as expected and was replaced up front by veteran striker Marc Richards, who recovered from a bruised ankle.

Another notable change was the introduction of skipper Olly Lancashire, who returned to action after a six-week lay-off through injury.

Youngster Rollin Menayese made way and dropped out of the matchday squad altogether as Ryan McGivern returned for a spot on the bench.

The third and final switch saw on-loan winger Kellan Gordon take up a position at the right of midfield, as Keshi Anderson dropped to the bench.

Before kick-off, both sets of fans paid their respects to the late Ray Wilkins, who passed away during the week after suffering a heart attack.

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One minute into the game, the physios were called onto the pitch after winger Gordon went down just inside the Town half, which subsequently caused him to be stretchered off and Donal McDermott sent into the fray.

Just under 15 minutes into the game, Town had a half-chance as Chris Hussey’s cross was deflected into the path of Richards, who spotted the run of Matt Taylor. However, the former West Ham United man saw his right-footed shot blocked by the Carlisle defence.

Moments later, Taylor’s deep corner found Ollie Banks, who was lurking at the back post, and the on-loan midfielder knocked it back in the box, only for Richards to find the post with a header of his own.

On the half-hour mark, Swindon were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position and Taylor’s effort narrowly clipped the wall before whistling over Jack Bonham’s goal for a corner, which proved no threat as it was over hit.

The visitors then made their first change of the day, which, like Town’s, was injury enforced, as Hallam Hope had to make way for Kristopher Tardek.

In the final quarter-of-an-hour of the first half, Town had brief moments of positivity as they often looked to be in good situations, before a final ball or poor first touch let them down.

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The addition of seven minutes’ extra playing time was greeted with cheer of encouragement by the Swindon fans, but it was to no avail as the first half ended how it had started.

In the second half, Town had a renewed sense of urgency, which almost came to fruition as McDermott drove into the middle of the park from the right, before lashing a left-footed shot towards goal.

Goalkeeper Bonham, who had been having a quiet afternoon, was forced to spring to his left to deny the former Bournemouth man.

The visiting stopper was called into action again 10 minutes after the restart as Taylor’s driven ball from the right was beaten away at his near post.

After clearing the resulting corner, the danger was back as Taylor again pegged a ball to the back post, only for Richards to head wide of the mark.

Former Hull City scholar, Jamie Devitt had proved a handful all afternoon for the visitors and none more so that when his vicious free-kick had to be beaten away by Town keeper Stuart Moore in the 63rd minute.

Keshi Anderson was then brought on for Lancashire with 25 minutes to go, as Swindon altered their system to a more offensive approach, as they adopted a 4-3-3 formation.

Taylor slotted in at left-back, as Hussey took the reins at centre half with Ben Purkiss, leaving a midfield of Banks, McDermott and James Dunne, while there was a front three of Richards, Kaiyne Woolery and Anderson.

Traits from the first half spilled over into the second as Town looked good to a point, before a lack of conviction let them down. This was perfectly epitomised by Banks, who had a superb run to wriggle free at the edge of the area, before firing well wide with a curling effort.

With 12 minutes left, Brown opted to make his third and final change as he brought on McGivern, for Richards, which saw them return to 4-4-2.

Full-backs Hussey and Kyle Knoyle then both had chances to pick out a team-mate after beating their marker on opposite sides of the pitch, only for neither to do so as Town continued to search for their elusive goal.

Optimism turned into desperation for the Town players and fans alike, as the officials opted for three minutes of added time, but it was too little too late as a lack of conviction saw the hosts have to settle for a 0-0 draw.

Town’s next opponents are Yeovil Town at the County Ground in what will be a crucial game for the club.

While there may be some pessimism surrounding Swindon’s play-off ambitions, a win could see them climb above the dotted line.

With that, Town’s form will read one defeat in six, which considering some of the downturn in performances from teams around them, isn’t too bad at all.