Colchester United embark on a brand new year of home fixtures this afternoon.

And if their form at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in 2018 is anything like it was in the last calendar year, they will surely have a fighting chance of challenging for promotion.

This year is a milestone one for the U's as it will mark the tenth anniversary of the U’s move to the venue from their beloved Layer Road.

Under John McGreal, they have arguably enjoyed their most profitable period on home turf since the stadium’s inception.

In 2017, Colchester were beaten only four times at the Community Stadium in the league, a record to rival any team in the fourth tier and one of the best in the country, in all four divisions.

And it is not as though they have just been scraping results there under McGreal, either.

They have been hitting the net with regularity in front of their own fans and in the first half of this season, only four clubs in League Two have scored more than the 21 goals they have registered there so far.

Encouragingly, Colchester have managed to match their excellent home form with some impressive results on their travels, over recent months.

It has seen them move to within three points of the automatic promotion places ahead of today’s clash with Cambridge United, following a splendid run of just two defeats in their last 16 league matches.

It is such consistency that will ultimately form the platform for any challenge they make to return to League One, following a two-year absence.

There is plenty for Colchester to look forward to, in 2018.

For the last seven matches, half of their outfield side has been made up of home-grown academy players and that looks set to continue, in the second half of the campaign.

McGreal has assembled a team that has become hard to beat and they seemingly come a long way since their 1-0 defeat at Cambridge, in the opening weeks of the season.

Today’s return match will serve as a good barometer of just how much progress has been made over recent months – and what might be achieved in the opening weeks of 2018.