Exeter City gained a vital three points as they saw off Rochdale in front of another packed St James Park.
6,900 Grecians crammed into EX4 to see Tim Dieng and Matt Jay add to their tallies this season.
Dieng swivelled and opened the scoring just after the half hour and the captain made the points safe in the second half as the Grecians cemented their place in the top three.
Cam Dawson kept his 18th clean sheet of the season as City take full momentum into Tuesday's match with Barrow.
Matt Taylor made three changes to the loss at Tranmer, with Jonathan Grounds, Matt Jay and Jake Caprice returned to the starting line-up.
The visitors started the brighter and sliced through the Exeter press where they worked an opening for Jimmy Keohane inside of the penalty area with only five minutes on the clock.
The right wing back forced the Grecians goalkeeper Cameron Dawson into a fine early save with his leg from the resulting low power driver shot.
Minutes later Keohane had another golden opportunity for his side as the ball fell to him on the edge of the area where Dawson was equal to the effort and palmed away the curling shot.
The home side started slow, but they weathered the storm and started to grow into the game.
The Grecians had their first chance of the match as they patiently waited for the right moment to play in a killer cross on the right-hand side.
Pierce Sweeny whipped in a delicious delivery which was met by the stretching Oz Zanzala who could only put his headed effort wide of the post who was unmarked from six yards out.
The away skipper Eoghan O’Connell had his goalkeeper to thank as his sloppy pass was intercepted by Jay who played in his midfield partner Archie Collins.
Collins drove into the penalty area and had his shot pushed away, an excellent chance for Exeter to get their noses into the lead.
Moments later Jevani Brown had a sledgehammer shot heroically blocked by a stubborn Rochdale defender after some slick play from the players in red and white.
The pressure was evident as Exeter continued to knock on the away sides door to open to scoring.
After several corner’s, this one got played short to Josh Key whose low cross found Zanzala who managed to get a sweeping effort away despite pinning his defender and having his back to the goal.
However, his effort trickled agonisingly wide of Jay Lynch’s post, a real left of for Rochdale.
At the other end of the pitch after a quick fluent counterattack Cheick Diabate denied a certain goal as he stood up the Dale’s striker Luke Charman who closed in onto the Grecians goal.
Moments later the breakthrough came on the 34th minute after Exeter had a wide free kick fizzed in by Collins.
The sliding Dieng timed his run brilliantly and poked in from six yards out to break the deadlock after the Grecians continuous hammering of the Rochdale defence.
Advantage to Exeter at the break as they held a sledder lead.
The opening exchanges of the second half started with Zanzala and Rochdale’s centreback Jimmy McNulty both getting abit too close for comfort as both players were booked for their involvement in an altercation.
The first real chance of the second 45 minutes came to the goal scorer Dieng as the Frenchman tried to flick Sweeneys cross goal bound but couldn’t get enough on it.
After minimal action within the first 15 minutes of the second half the Big Bank roared on the 60th minute as Jay’s diving header thumped the net.
After some quick passes from the home side the ball went wide to Jake Caprice who was tackled but the ball fell to Brown.
The midfielder dropped a shoulder in the penalty area and smashed an effort goal bound but Lynch was equal to it.
The Grecians skipper was the quickest to react and his header extended Matt Taylor’s sides lead in the game to 2-0.
Moments later a vital tackle in the area by Max Taylor denied Zanzala a one-on-one situation with a critical sliding tackle to stop the home side sealing all three points.
Caprice won a wide free klick after some dazzling footwork which Brown whipped into the danger zone.
Taylor headed away from the resulting set piece but could only find Key who coolly played Diabate but could only blaze his close-range effort over the crossbar.
Into the closing 10 minutes of the game, Jay played a clever ball to Brown who burst into the penalty area, rounded The Dale’s keeper and went down but was denied a penalty and got a yellow card for his troubles.
In the closing stages of the contest Dawson kept his clean sheet intact with a sublime save from six yards as he made himself big to deny substitute Josh Andrews.
City move into Tuesday's game with Barrow, knowing their closer to their seasonal goal.
Exeter City: Dawson, Key, Sweeney, Daibate, Grounds, Caprice, Collins, Dieng, Jay, Brown, Zanzala
Subs: S. Brown, Pond, Sparkes, Rowe, Coley, Nombe, Amond
Rochdale AFC: Lynch, McNulty, Taylor, O'Connell, Dooley, Charman, Grant, Keohane, Done, Odoh, Clark
Subs: Wade, O'Keefe, White, Newby, Andrews, Scanlon, Thomas
Referee: Carl Brook
Attendance: 6,935 (152 away)