Mark McGhee and his players are making all the right noises.

You know the sort of thing; still a lot of hard work to be done to make the play-offs, taking games one at a time.

McGhee's cautious guard just slipped slightly though when I asked him if finishing in the top two is beyond Albion? "We are trying to get ourselves to 73, 74 or 75 points," he said. "We'll see when that is."

No emphatic denial then. Take it from me, within the camp Albion have not given up hope of snatching the second automatic promotion place. It is a longshot, of course, but plenty of longshots won at Cheltenham last week.

Leaders Plymouth have an unassailable 14-point advantage over the Seagulls. Second-placed QPR's cushion is half of that and had it not been for Rangers' second-half recovery to draw at rock-bottom Wycombe then Albion would be as close to them as they are clear of the pack pursuing a play-off place.

If McGhee's side can repeat their current seven-match unbeaten run then they could go to Wales for their last match of the season at Wrexham still with the chance of avoiding the prospect of a return to the principality for the play-off final.

It is a big if but one which, looking at a relatively easy run-in, is not impossible, particularly with a big man leading the line.

Chris Iwelumo has already made a sizeable impact. The 6ft 4in signing from Stoke followed up his debut screamer at Chesterfield with another goal on his first home appearance and an assist for Leon Knight's late winner which clinched a sixth Withdean win in a row.

McGhee said: "Chris was the difference on a day when we didn't play well. He gives us an outlet.

"When you are not delivering good quality passes up front you need somebody that can deal with it. He made the best of what was poor service, scored a goal and made a goal, so I am delighted with him."

You could be forgiven for thinking the players and staff have already been kitted out for a play-off final appearance at Cardiff. Some, like young leftback Dan Harding, were wearing new navy suits with a light blue and white tie, which are being provided for the club by a clothes shop in Brighton. Others, like the tan-suited Iwelumo, have yet to collect theirs.

"I don't think they had enough material to cover Chris' legs!" joked Harding.

"I think there has been a bit of a mix-up with them getting to all of the players but it is being sorted out for the next home game so hopefully we can all look the part now.

"It will be nice for the boys to all dress up smart and come in looking the same. It gives an extra edge of confidence."

Iwelumo already looks very much the part. His aerial power and ability to hold the ball up frightens opposition defenders, while giving his own back four a valuable get-out.

Harding, continuing his record of never losing a match he has started for Albion, said: "Chris has been brilliant since he came in. We didn't get much time to speak to him before the Chesterfield game and he got a great goal there.

"Now he has got another one, let's hope he can keep it going. It gives us an extra element to our game. We can always play it into the big man. We know he is strong in the air."

Iwelumo demonstrated that strength with the opening goal against one of the 14 clubs who were trying to sign him.

He beat Colchester keeper Simon Brown to a left-wing cross from Nathan Jones to back-head Albion into a flattering lead a third of the way through the contest.

Iwelumo admitted the goal owed a lot to Brown's rush of blood. "I knew there was no way he was going to make it and basically it was luck. If he had stayed on the line it would have been an easy catch for him. I just helped it on."

Brown made partial amends with a breathtaking one-handed stop on to the roof of the net from another Iwelumo header after the break.

Colchester's 4-5-1 formation bothered Albion out of their stride, although they had ironically reverted to 4-4-2 when they deservedly equalised midway through the second period.

Craig Fagan's cross was nodded back by fellow Premiership loanee Rowan Vine for the diminutive Kem Izzet, brother of Leicester's Muzzy, to head in from six yards.

Colchester's first away League goal for more than 12 and a half hours looked like earning them a point until Iwelumo headed Richard Carpenter's free-kick across the face of goal for Knight to notch his 24th of the season with a diving header from close in three minutes from time.

Iwelumo said: "I am here to make goals for Leon. If he is busy around me he is going to get chances and, with the ability he has got, he will put most of them away.

"It has not been a problem settling in. The lads have been absolutely outstanding. They are a really good bunch."

McGhee insists his team must play better than they did against Colchester, who finished with ten men, on-loan Watford centre half Wayne Brown receiving two yellow cards for fouls on Knight.

"I think we were fortunate," McGhee said. "Colchester deserved at least a point.

"They passed the ball better than us and their slightly different shape gave us problems.

"We had to scrap for a victory but other results have gone our way and the table looks good for us, so I cannot really complain."

Albion are back up to fourth following Swindon's defeat at Wrexham. Climbing another couple of places between now and the beginning of May is a tantalising thought.