WHEN John Miles’ strike hit the back of the net, Stanley boss John Coleman had every reason to fear the worst.
The winger had scored twice this season and both times the Reds had ended up on the losing side and with heavy defeats - 3-1 to Rochdale and 5-1 at Lincoln.
So when Miles powered home the equaliser against play-off chasing Exeter, the cheers were mingled with a tinge of "oh no’s" with even the Stanley player himself not too sure what would happen next.
But Liverpool loanee Craig Lindfield made sure it was all smiles as he scored the winner to ease the Reds’ relegation fears as they enjoy their best spell of the season, with three wins in the last four games.
"It was nice to score - but even better to win," said Miles. "The only two goals I have scored this season, we have ended up losing so I can’t believe I have scored and we have won.
"The gaffer is taking credit for the goal as it was from a corner routine we practised in training but I wasn’t sure it would come to me and I was screaming for it.
"Then I decided to go for power rather than curl it and when it went in I was in shock.
"I ran away and a few of the lads followed but I never rehearse goal celebrations as I never expect to score!"
The wideman added: "And Craig deserved his goal as he has worked really hard. He finished it well."
Boss John Coleman echoed that sentiment as his side moved well clear of the drop zone.
"Craig was absolutely outstanding. His work rate is phenomenal and to be able to keep that going for the 90 minutes, the way he has done, is testament to his fitness.
"Craig is a smashing kid as well and I think you could see that all the players were delighted when he scored.
"That’s testament to how good the team spirit is. I can’t praise Craig highly enough and I hope that will give him the confidence to get a few more goals."
With victories over Macclesfield and Port Vale in the bag - teams around the Reds - promotion-chasing Exeter were going to be a different proposition.
And they could have been three goals up in the first five minutes as they were quickly out of the traps.
Adam Stansfield had a header blocked on the line while strike partner Craig McAllister just had keeper Kenny Arthur to beat but fired wide - with just three minutes gone.
And then McAllister’s flick on found Stansfield who fired low into the bottom of the net for his tenth goal of the campaign.
Boss Paul Tisdale admitted it was a "fabulous" start by his promotion-chasers but then Stanley began to get into the game as the widemen got more involved.
And when the Reds won a corner, captain Peter Cavanagh made a short pass to Miles who found space and rifled the ball into the top of the net.
"We worked on that in training," said Coleman. "I did fear that it was going to be a long afternoon as Exeter started all guns blazing but all credit to the lads for battling back.
"We had looked at how we could exploit Exeter’s defence from corners and that one worked a treat. It is always pleasing when they come off."
However the Reds did have a let off when defender Matt Gill got the ball in the area with only Arthur to beat but amazingly fired well wide and then McAllister’s header was kept out by the Stanley stopper.
"2-1 to them at the break and you don’t know what would have happened," admitted Coleman.
But instead it was his own side who forced the pace after the interval.
Chris Turner's cross just evaded Stanley new boy Michael Symes, who has signed on a month's loan from Shrewsbury replacing Reds favourite Paul Mullin following his shock move to Bradford.
Symes then had a good chance blocked while, from a Miles corner on 61 minutes, keeper Paul Jones failed to properly clear the ball and the goal was gaping for Andy Procter but he blasted the ball well over.
But, the pressure eventually paid off for the home side on 64 minutes when Stanley broke and Turner's cross from the right found Lindfield who took the ball down on his chest and rifled home the winner to score his second Reds’ goal, following his loan move in January from Anfield.
Stanley captain Cavanagh had a shot just over the crossbar as the home side went on the hunt for a third to secure the three points.
But really Exeter offered little up front despite putting on ex-Red Stuart Fleetwood who had scored goals for fun at Forest Green before his permanent switch to Charlton and now his loan move to the Grecians.
Stanley held firm - a great result against the in-form side - and all those thoughts of the eight games without a win and a relegation scrap are hopefully a distant memory.
"We have not been playing much different but have not had the results our performances have merited," continued Coleman.
"You speak to opposing managers and they are full of praise for the way we played.
"I know it is a results-orientated business but, if you are playing well, you have got to stick to what you are doing as it will eventually go for you and it has.
"I am delighted for the players as no one was hurting as much as them during the poor spell."
And he ended with words of praise for Miles, who can sometimes frustrate but sometimes delight his manager.
"We have got some great players in the squad," said Coleman. "John Miles, when he gets on the ball and goes at players is as good as anybody in the league. We just need to get him on the ball more. I am just glad he scored - and we have won!"