Hartlepool United suffered another depressing afternoon with a home defeat to play-off chasers Exeter City.
Not even a return to action for club captain Billy Paynter and a surprise comeback by Carl Magnay could inspire Pools.
The duo came on as second-half subs, but could not lift Pools who trailed to a first-half Alex Nicholls header.
Exeter wrapped up the points six minutes from time through Joel Grant.
Pools: Carson, Richards, Harrison, Jackson, Carroll, Featherstone (Magnay 65), Woods (Paynter 65), Gray, Hawkins, Bingham, Oates (Thomas 33).
Unused Subs: Bartlett, Jones, Walker, Fenwick.
Booked: Harrison 79
Exeter: Olejnik, McCready, Brown, Ribiero, McAllister, Holmes (Davies 60), Oakley, Tillson, Nicholls (Reid 90), Stockley, Grant (Taylor 86)
Subs: Butterfield, Hamon, Wheeler, Watkins
Goals Nicholls 36, Grant 84
Referee: D Handley
Pools were first out of the traps with a shot and cross in the first 60 seconds.
Ronnie Moore's side were bright going forward but the first save of the afternoon came from Exeter's first attack, Trevor Carson made a flying save to his left from Tom McCready.
Pools had a chance in the 17th minute when Jake Carroll played in a good free-kick but Lewis Hawkins could not get hold of the ball.
The Grecians, for all their FA Cup heroics against Liverpool and two good League Two results, were playing little in the way of football.
Pools had another opportunity when Michael Woods broke into the box from a Rakish BIngham flick, only to be dispossed by Troy Brown.
Against the run of play, Exeter went in front in the 36th minute.
The Grecians broke forward from deep in their own half and Lee Holmes delivered a cross from the left which NICHOLLS headed in with Carson almost keeping it out.
Buoyed by this goal, the away side had the better of the rest of the half, with Jayden Stockley just going over from the edhe of the area.
Exeter City 1
Pools began the better, as they did in the first half, and forced two corners but Scott Harrison shot over from the first and the secomnd, from Richards, was toom close to the keeper.
There was a chance on 51 minutes when Jake Gray found sub Nathan Thomas with a fine pass but he dragged his left-foot shot wide.
Moore made a double change on 65 minutes, bringing on Paynter and Magnay for Woods and Featherstone.
Pools did up the pressure with Thomas seeing some ball down the left.
One cross was a mile too deep but his next just slightly too high for Bingham.
Carroll was involved in two opportunities. He provided a nice free-kick which Ribiero almost headed into his own net and then the left-back drew a diving save from the keeper.
However, the Grecians had the points won six minutes from time.
Great trickery from Nicholls set it up with GRANT scoring via the woodwork. Pools complained it had not crossed the line but the linesman ruled it had and the goal was awarded.
Pools has a late flurry with Thomas shooting into the side-netting and the keeper tipping over a Magnay header, but there was to be no goal.