They may not have the budget of some of the League One heavyweights, but Greg Abbott's spirited Carlisle United continue to offer evidence that they will take some shifting in this season's promotion race. Abbott ripped the heart out of his squad over the summer in order to improve on last season's 14th place and the early omens surrounding his mixed bag of free transfers and bargain buys appear positive despite this barren draw here with struggling Swindon.
Sitting second in the embryonic table and boasting one of the Football League's few unbeaten records, Abbott has turned Carlisle into a tough nut to crack even if they rode their luck at times in a tight game.
Swindon, beaten play-off finalists in May, might have stolen their first win of the season if the normally prolific Charlie Austin had not misfired.
Still, Abbott had reason to be happy with the intensity and work-rate of his young side during a tense first half. They took charge and had the better of the few chances the game threw up for an hour.
Ben Marshall, on loan from Stoke, had the best – side-footing wide from close range after fine work from the hard running Frank Simek.
But Danny Wilson's Swindon wrestled back the initiative after he replaced the ineffective Vincent Pericard midway through the second half. The Robins ended firmly in the ascendancy and had the two best opportunities of the game as the clock ticked down.
The substitute David Ball stole a march on James Chester with 13 minutes left and despite guiding the ball past Adam Collin, the debutant Lubomir Michalik was able to hack clear on the line. And then Austin, finding himself behind last man Chester, inexplicably blazed over the bar in injury time.
Abbott admitted a point was generous reward for his side – but was happy to talk about further signs of progress. He said: "I look at the table and we're second and unbeaten. So they probably deserved the win on this occasion but we'll gladly take the point because we worked ever so hard."