Exeter manager Matt Taylor felt his side’s superior quality told as they opened up a four-point gap on eighth-placed Carlisle in the race for the play-offs with a 2-0 win over Port Vale.
Ryan Bowman won his side a penalty inside two minutes, which was converted by Nicky Law for his 10th goal of the season, and Hiram Boateng sealed victory with a stunning dipping volley from outside the penalty area 10 minutes into the second half.
Taylor said: “We created some good chances all afternoon and I felt we were the stronger team throughout. We did the basics really well today, there was a solid foundation and a good mindset about us from start to finish.
“The game was niggly at times and we lost a little bit of our own discipline and concentration in those moments and we had to get that back quickly.
“We had to match the opposition in terms of the basics and then that bit of quality showed through.
“Hiram probably wasn’t as sharp as he was on Tuesday night, but he has that in him.
“Hiram is a player that can produce moments like that and we need him on the pitch for as long as we possibly can.
“The opportunities were there for him more than he probably realised today but that is the first time he has played back-to-back games since his injury and we have to be realistic in terms of where Hiram is at with his game.
“The players stood up today. A lot was made of our defeat (3-2 at Macclesfield) on Tuesday but we know what we need to do. I was pleased with the start and an early goal always settles the nerves.”
Port Vale boss John Askey was disappointed with the way his side performed and felt they got what they deserved.
Defeat means the Valiants are not mathematically safe, but with a 10-point gap between them and the relegation zone and four matches remaining, they are all-but safe.
“From our point of view, we weren’t at it today,” he said. “We were a yard off the pace. We have been going well and came here and to put in a performance like that is really disappointing,” Askey said.
“The players have given me everything they have got over the last few weeks and I don’t want to be too hard on them. Obviously I’m disappointed, especially for the people that have come here to watch us play.
“Hopefully we learn from it, I have learned about one or two players, but we have to move on.
“It didn’t help with the decision early on, which knocked the stuffing out of us, but we couldn’t get going at all. The longer the game went on… Well, I don’t think we played all game and it’s just really disappointing.”