Dave Jones was "proud" of his players as Hartlepool United maintained their six-point advantage over the relegation zone after fighting back to beat promotion-chasing Exeter City 3-1.
The Grecians arrived at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium with the best away record in the division but were sent packing by three second-half goals.
Lewis Alessandra was the star with a brace as he made it four goals inside an action-packed week following his double in the 4-0 drubbing of Crewe Alexandra.
His superb goals with his left and right boot sandwiched a left-foot beauty from Padraig Amond in the 69th minute as Pools overturned a 1-0 half-time deficit from Ollie Watkins excellent 14th-minute goal.
With Leyton Orient winning their basement battle 4-0 at Newport County, this victory was crucial to keep the gap with the 23rd-placed Londoners at six points.
"I'm proud of them," said Jones. "We had a pop at the at half-time but they came out for the second half like they did against Crewe.
"They responded and that's all we can ask for as a manager.
"To beat a team that wins on the road as many times as Exeter is no mean feat."
The three-goal salvo came after Jones switched Pools from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, man of the match Rhys Oates joining Amond up front with Alessandra going on the left of midfield with Nathan Thomas on the right.
Jones deflected any praise for a piece of tactical genius onto his players.
“If you say I changed it second half then great, but it was a good team performance by everyone," said the manager who saluted Oat5es and Alessandra.
“I don’t like picking anyone out, but second-half Oates and Alessandra worked hard."
Grecians boss Paul Tisdale had no complaints about the result as his side, who had won 11 and drawn two on their travels, suffered a rare reverse.
“It was a very comfortable 65 minutes and then it all changed with the bounce of a ball and a couple of good finishes and we were left chasing the game," he said.
“We were in complete control and apart from scoring second goal we did everything right.
“If anyone looked like they were going to score [in the second half] it was us. But it shows the fragility of a 1-0 lead.
“Hartlepool got one to level and the whole game changed – the crowd raised a level and that’s what happens in football. Confidence comes from such situations. It lifted them."