Colchester United's march up the League Two table continued on Monday, as they started 2017 with a 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town.
An early goal and a positive first half display looked like it might set up a comfortable afternoon for John McGreal's men, but they were made to work for their points by a determined Cheltenham team.
But the U's have found many ways to win games in recent weeks and a fifth clean sheet in seven and a sixth win made it nineteen points from the last twenty-one to really thrust the team further into the play-off picture.
They now have a number of the teams above them in their sights ahead of the weekend visit of Carlisle.
The U's took a 1-0 lead into half time thanks to a header from Tom Eastman in the 10th minute. The centre back produced a looping header at the back post to lob Russell Griffiths from an Owen Garvan free kick.
Other than the goal, chances were few and far between as both sides played out a physical encounter throughout the first half, as both Brennan Dickenson and Frankie Kent were on the receiving end of a couple of late challenges.
Colchester striker Chris Porter went close to for the U's just before the 40 minute mark but he was unable to beat Griffiths in the Cheltenham goal after finding shooting space from the angle.
The Robins best chance of the half came through ex U's player Dan Holman as he attempted a half volley from range but his powerful effort was saved comfortably by Sam Walker.
The second half began in the same frantic pace that the first half was played at and Cheltenham could have been level if it wasn’t for a superb Frankie Kent block in the six yard box.
The ball dropped to Diego De Girolamo in the box from a free kick but Kent dived in the way to block.
Colchester's first good opportunity of the second half came from a a Craig Slater free kick from range, the midfielder's powerful strike forced Griffiths into a smart save to tip over.
Colchester then somehow failed to double their lead as a goal mouth scramble from a free kick resulted in Dickenson turning the ball goalwards but it was cleared off the line by Jordan Cranston.
It was then the turn of Cheltenham to have their best chance of the game and it was Sam Walker to the rescue for the U's.
The keeper produced a stunning save as he clawed the ball out from under his own crossbar to deny Billy Waters from close range. George Elokobi was then on hand to clear the ball acrobatically.
Waters then had another chance shortly after but his left footed shot from the edge of the area went just wide and Colchester took full advantage.
The U's doubled their lead with just six minutes to go as Porter set up Dickenson on the edge of the area.
The winger produced a superb shot with the outside of his left foot that went into the left corner and gave Griffiths no chance.
Colchester were able to see the game out from there and now move up to 8th in Sky Bet League Two and sit two points off the play off places.