Northampton Town manager Chris Wilder admitted a half-time rocket got the desired effect as his side won their crucial relegation six-pointer at Exeter City, 1-0.
Substitute Ian Morris scored the only goal of a dire game after 56 minutes when he connected with Chris Hackett's cross, but until then Wilder's side had been second best to an Exeter outfit who dominated possession but failed to have a shot on target in 90 turgid minutes.
The Cobblers remain in the bottom two but the win brings them to within three points of Exeter, who - one place clear of the drop zone - have played a game more and are currently in freefall after a 13th successive home game without a win.
"If we take it on, it could be a big result," Wilder said. "I have got a bit of a headache and lost my voice because we had to work extremely hard to get that result.
"In the first half they weren't at the races, they were better and sharper than us. We didn't close the gaps or play with any quality - maybe the type of performance that put us in this position.
"We were disappointed with it and we got into the players at half-time and we were the better side in the second half.
"We had more quality out wide and the front two worked a touch harder out of possession and were a threat in possession.
"We had a couple of good chances but Exeter gave it a go so we had to make sure we defended properly.
"They were better than us in the first half and possibly were a touch unfortunate to be only level at half-time. But we got a great reaction from the players and it is a big three points for us."
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale was pleased with the first 30 minutes from his side but felt nerves got the better of them.
"I thought the first half-hour was excellent other than the fact we didn't create chances or score goals, but the team was excellent," he said. "The problem is if you don't put the ball in the right areas or put pressure on the goal then you aren't going to score.
"We missed a golden chance through David Wheeler but we looked strong and competent in that spell, but then we looked nervous and once they scored their goal their nerves went and we became very nervous.
"We didn't finish the game particularly well and the basics are that you have to score more than you concede. It is a very disappointing night and the table doesn't make for good reading, but we have to hold our nerve and it is my job to make sure we keep doing the best we can.
"We have to deal with the nerves better than we did in that last half-hour. It's tough but we have to get the first goal, we have to keep a clean sheet, so there are some basics that we have to do. We have to keep our nerve and we have to keep going."