MICHAEL Smith’s second-half penalty handed Swindon Town their first victory in eight League One matches, and their first home win in almost two months, as Preston North End were beaten 1-0 at the County Ground this afternoon.

A quiet first half, during which Miles Storey saw a tame effort saved by Declan Rudd in the Preston goal, gave way to a pulsating contest after the break Town started the second half at a canter and deservedly took the lead in the 56th minute.

Ben Gladwin burst into the area from the left wing and went down under a clumsy challenge from Neil Kilkenny. Referee Iain Williamson pointed to the spot and Smith was cool under pressure from 12 yards, sending Declan Rudd the wrong way to put his team in front.

Preston boss Simon Grayson reacted to falling behind by making a triple change from the bench, with Kevin Davies, Stuart Beavon and John Welsh all thrown on in an effort to change the game, but Swindon remained in the ascendancy.

Rudd produced superb saves from Smith, his namesake Alex and the brilliant Gladwin as the visitors hung onto a one-goal deficit.

However, as the minutes ticked by Preston took greater and greater control of proceedings, without forcing Wes Foderingham into a save of note.

Swindon’s back four stood firm under a barrage of crosses from either flank and held out for all three points.