Exeter manager Paul Tisdale was a happy man as his side climbed off the foot of the table with a 3-1 home victory over Rochdale.
Daniel Nardiello celebrated his 29th birthday with a brace - the first from the penalty spot - and on-loan Reading striker Jake Taylor netted his first goal in professional football 10 minutes from time, but Exeter did not have it all their own way. Rochdale dominated the first half but only had Nathan Eccleston's tap-in to show for their efforts.
"We have had games this season where we have played extremely well and lost. Here, we weren't at our best, it wasn't a reflection of us, but it was a reflection of our anxiety and wanting it too much," Tisdale said.
"We were too hasty to make decisions and tried too many difficult things and they were the better side and gave us a real challenge around our box, so to come in at half-time all-square helped to change my team talk a little.
"We were able to start the second half from scratch starting level and we won the second half. It was a very difficult game for us, but in the second half, they did all the things I wanted them to do.
"We played in straight lines after the break and kept it very simple knowing that Jake Taylor can do the job of two men up front and we know how important that is for Exeter."
Dale boss Steve Eyre felt his players had let him down for the first time since he took over at Spotland.
"When we look at the game and we watch the telly I don't think there will be three worse goals conceded," he said. "We will take responsibility, but I really don't know what we can actually do when lads are failing to pass to a blue shirt or keep the ball on the pitch and obviously man-handling players for a penalty.
"We set the lads out, we pick the lads and pick the shirts, but when there are three bits of really untidy defending it is unforgivable and for the first time this season I feel let down.
"We could have scored three or four. It was horrific defending on the stroke of half-time and the home team had their tails up for the following 45 minutes. The players have got to take some ownership. That is not the first time this season that Marcus Holness has given a penalty away, there are fingerprints all over his opponent and it is mauling and untidy."