FORGIVE yourself for mentioning the words ‘play-offs’ or ‘promotion’ over a post-match pint on Saturday – Swindon Town’s hunt for a top-seven position is on.

After a stalled start, Richie Wellens’ men delivered a clinical, defensively pleasing and determined performance to record their biggest home win since Accrington Stanley’s promotion party was hampered last May.

The sun shone on that warm day at the end of last season, and – 10 months later – it’s starting to shine on Town’s performances too.

That’s five wins in eight fixtures for Wellens’ team now – form that hasn’t been replicated since the David Flitcroft era, Town’s six wins in eight matches between December 23, 2017, and the end of January.

Suddenly, the home shackles seem to be off. Encouragingly, Town are only four points short of the play-off frame. And excitedly, the additions of Canice Carroll, Theo Robinson, Kyle Bennett and Tom Broadbent look to have made a positive impact on Town’s ability to turn losses into draws, and draws into wins.

The play-off ‘dream’ – if you want to call it that – is on. Another six-pointer against Carlisle this weekend will only add or deter confidence from the County Ground’s faithful.

For the first time in a while, results elsewhere benefitted Town too. John Akinde netted twice for Lincoln City as they defeat Forest Green Rovers, Carlisle were thumped by Newport County and Exeter lost out to Tranmere.

All three of those results have squeezed the chasing pack further, with only six points separating fifth-placed Exeter to 12th placed Newport – the only other team besides Town to have a game in hand.

Upon leaving the County Ground, chants from the County Ground Hotel could be heard – how that has been missed.

Forgive the upbeat and positive approach to this report, but it’s nice to do it every once in a while.

Three changes were made by Wellens with Lawrence Vigouroux and Luke Woolfenden returning from injury while James Dunne replaced Keshi Anderson.

Luke McCormick, Keshi Anderson and Ali Koiki were the players to miss out.

Jak McCourt recorded the first chance of the game – a failed chip from 45 yards out which floated into the arms of a high-up visiting ‘keeper Rene Gilmartin after Canice Carroll won possession from a committed tackle.

But Carroll was then made to count his blessings as time ticked into the teens.

After a woeful pass from the Brentford loan signing, Colchester earned a corner. From which, Vigouroux palmed Mikael Mandron’s effort off the goal line before Carroll partly made up for his earlier blunder by hacking the ball clear.

Camped in their own half, Colchester couldn’t a find a way past the back four of Woolfenden, Conroy, Broadbent and Knoyle. Similarly, balls over the top were comfortably cut-out by United – who enjoyed the upper-hand of an uneventful first 30.

Five minutes passed before Town had their next try at goal. A free-kick from 25 yards out was ballooned over United’s crossbar, adding to the grumbles that were already dominating the County Ground mood.

But those grumbles turned into scenes unparallel to the opening 38 minutes when Town netted twice in as many minutes – through two unlikely goalscorers.

Firstly, Canice Carroll rifled a close-range effort into the top corner after Robinson’s pass inside to Dunne was laid off to Woolery. Woolery’s smart header picked the 20-year-old out close to the penalty spot, and he - without hesitation – smashed a left-footed drive beyond Gilmartin.

Then, Woolfenden – the victim of bizarre cries of frustration from Town’s faithful following a build-up backwards pass – answered his home critics when escaping marker Dickenson and heading James Dunne’s accurate cross into Gilmartin’s far corner.

The move capped an inspired two minutes of play – one which lifted previously muted spirits with the half ending 2-0.

Wind-speed lifted for the second half, Vigouroux frequently restricted by a bitter crosswind when clearing the ball from his six-yard area.

John McGreal shuffled his pack with less than 10 minutes played in the first half. On came former Town striker Luke Norris – to pantomime boos from the crowd – and centre back Tom Eastman with Dickinson and Wright making way.

The changes were part of United’s fresh attacking approach, with three men positioned in defence while Stevenson sat in the hold.

Changes benefitted Town as Wellens’ men exploited their pressing philosophy, which allowed McCourt the chance to try his luck from a free kick 20 yards out. While accurate, McCourt’s effort was punched wide by Gilmartin.

The clocked ticked past the hour mark, and Town’s goal tally was quickly added to. January loan signing Kyle Bennett benefitted from a midfield tackle to dispatch his right-footed shot from 25 yards out into Gilmartin’s net – with a little help from U’s stopper who got a glove onto the midfielder’s attempt.

Try as they might, Colchester just couldn’t break the deadlock. Frankie Kent’s header was guided into Vigouroux’s hands before a delay resulted from Robinson’s exuberant clearance – the ball was ironically returned from the terraces upon the game’s resumption.

Keshi Anderson and Toumani Diagouraga were used as late substitutes by Wellens – the latter playing for the first time since October.

Second-year scholar Jacob Bancroft was also handed some minutes as Theo Robinson exited the pitch to a standing ovation - one of the biggest the County Ground has seen this season.

Bancroft was warmly welcomed by the home faithful and played at a high-tempo in the five minutes of stoppage time.