At this time of year, it’s pretty common to look ahead to the forthcoming New Year with genuine hope for what is to come.

But in Colchester United’s case, any buoyancy heading into 2018 is fully merited, if their recent form is anything to go by.

The U’s fine win at Swindon Town last Friday night briefly lifted them up to fifth in the League Two table, their highest position of the season so far.

And although results elsewhere saw them drop down to eight position by Saturday night, only goal difference is currently keeping John McGreal’s in-form side out of the play-off positions.

Indeed, Colchester sit just four points off third-placed Exeter City who they beat so impressively earlier this month, one of several promotion-chasing teams the U’s have proved their credentials against over recent weeks.

After they had played out a goal-less home draw with lowly Morecambe on November 18, the more pessimistic Colchester supporters were glancing at their team’s list of forthcoming fixtures with a sense of dread.

The prospect of playing Lincoln City, Notts County, Exeter City and Swindon Town – who were all placed above the U’s in the table prior to playing them - in successive games seemed a daunting one.

But Colchester have well and truly risen to the occasion.

To collect nine points from a possible 12 from that tough sequence of matches is highly impressive.

The U’s have lost only two of their last 13 league fixtures and are one of the form teams in the division.

Of course, it was a fairly similar scenario this time last year for Colchester; their form was excellent heading into the New Year.

A superb run of seven wins in an eight-match unbeaten run helped them rise from the division’s relegation zone to residing in the play-off positions.

It feels like a similar momentum is building again, with the busy festive programme just around the corner.

In the end, they fell just short of clinching a top-seven finish last season and McGreal and his men will be hoping to at least go one better, this time around.

If they can maintain their fine recent form, there is no reason why that should not happen.