Colchester United sent out a statement of intent for the second half of the season on Boxing Day, as a late Craig Slater goal separated them from high-flying Luton Town.
The U's came into the game on the back of a good run of form, but knew their qualities would be tested against one of the strongest sides in the division.
Both sides had their moments in a closely fought encounter, but a moment of real quality from Craig Slater proved the difference to send the U's fans home happy.
It's thirteen points from fifteen for John McGreal's men and they're right in the thick of the chase for the top seven.
They were unchanged for the fifth game in a row, the first time for ten years that they were able to record that kind of statistic.
In what was a quiet start to the game, the U’s had the first sight of goal. Brindley scuffed his shot, but it fell into the path of Lapslie, whose deflected effort almost wrong footed Walton, who adjusted well.
Not long after, his fellow midfielder Garvan juggled the ball into a shooting position 20 or so yards out and his left footed effort went just wide of the far upright.
At the other end, the dangerous Hylton was given time to set himself for a shot in the box, which he drilled low across the goal and Walker saved well low to his left.
The match flared into life midway through the first half as Kent and Hylton tangled as they fell to ground when going for a header.
The Luton striker’s boot appeared to catch Kent in the face as they came apart and he was booked for the incident, whilst Elokobi also saw yellow for his reaction.
The U’s had the briefest of glimpses of goal on 26 minutes as Walton sidefooted his clearance straight at Johnstone, but the ball deflected right back at the Hatters keeper.
The Scottish striker maybe should have done better a couple of minutes later when a Dickenson cross fell at his feet, but his shot was straight into the arms of Walton.
The match had a decent tempo to it and the transition through the middle third of the pitch was quick by both teams.
McGeehan was the next to get a sight of goal, but his effort from distance was always a comfortable collect for Walker.
Clear cut chances remained at a premium, though, and Garvan tried his luck ten minutes before half time with a first time swerving volley from distance that the keeper collected easily enough.
Hylton looked the most likely threat for the home team, but Eastman was marshalling him well and blocked well at the end of the half to ensure that it was goalless at the break.
The Hatters started the second half on the front foot with a series of set pieces, but the U’s stood strong.
However, some defensive hesitation from Kent almost let Hylton open the scoring, but he scuffed his shot into the arms of Walker.
But the U’s had an equally good chance at the other end as they burst down the Luton right, but Garvan swiped thin air with his shot and his follow-up was blocked.
Two minutes later, Johnstone conjured up some space as he rode a Luton tackle and fired in a fizzing shot that only just cleared the crossbar as a lively start to the half continued.
Marriott was the next to try for goal, as his touch and turn earned him space just outside the box, but his effort caught a U’s man and went over.
The Hatters went close again on 70 minutes as the ball fell to Mullins in the box from a set piece, but he thrashed his shot over.
The U’s rode that storm from the home team and made their first change with nine minutes to go, as Porter replaced Johnstone as the visitors sought the vital goal.
And they got that goal two minutes after his introduction.
A corner was cleared to the edge of the box and it found Slater, who struck home a superb low volley to beat the helpless Walton.
There were seven minutes – plus five of stoppages – for the U’s to protect that advantage and they did so with some comfort, as they also continued to press for a second.
They had to really dig in at Kenilworth Road, but they did just that and picked up an impressive three points.